Washington must ensure that “deterrence does not erode” on the peninsula, Roger Wicker has said FILE PHOTO: A nuclear-capable B-52H strategic bomber parked at a South Korean Air Force base at Cheongju Airport. © AFP / Anthony Wallace

The US should redeploy tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea, as increased cooperation with Russia and China has made North Korea “a source of global instability well beyond the Korean Peninsula,” Republican Senator Roger Wicker has said.

Wicker made the suggestion in a report – ‘21st Century Peace Through Strength: A Generational Investment in the US Military’ – which was published on Wednesday. The document also calls for the US defense budget to be increased by $55 billion to $950 billion in 2025.

“North Korea continues to outpace expectations with respect to its nuclear and missile programs, with capabilities that can target the continental US,” the lawmaker said, adding that with “no immediate diplomatic solution in sight,” Washington “must ensure that deterrence does not erode on the Korean Peninsula.”

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According to Wicker, the US should continue drills with South Korea, maintain a “persistent” military presence in the area, and explore “new options” such as the “redeployment of US tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula.”

He also called for discussions with South Korea, Japan, and Australia to “gauge their willingness to engage in a nuclear burden sharing arrangement with the US, similar to those existing with NATO allies.”

North Korea’s “strategic alignment” with Russia and China in recent years has provided it with a steady stream of revenue and made the communist country “a source of global instability well beyond the Korean Peninsula,” the lawmaker claimed.

The international sanctions, which had once crippled North Korea’s economy, have stopped being effective because Moscow and Beijing are refusing to implement them, he added.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said last year that there was “a completely different geopolitical situation” when UN restrictions were placed on Pyongyang in 2006. He accused Western countries of lying about their intentions to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis and resolve North Korea’s humanitarian issues. According to Lavrov, Moscow and Beijing will prevent any further attempts by the US and its allies to push through new sanctions on North Korea.

American nuclear weapons were first deployed to South Korea in 1958. The number of the weapons peaked at almost 950 – both strategic and tactical – in the late 1960s. They were withdrawn in 1991 under the administration of then-President George H. W. Bush.

Last month, North Korea carried out a simulated nuclear counterattack against enemy targets. The drills were observed in person by the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un. This followed the successful testing of a new “super-large warhead” cruise missile and a new type of anti-aircraft missile by Pyongyang.

In late April, North Korean state-run news agency KCNA published an article by international affairs analyst Kang Jin-song, in which he accused the US of trying to turn the Asia-Pacific region into a “touch-and-go nuclear minefield” through intensified military ties with South Korea, Japan, and Australia. (RT)