Remember the Stand Your Ground law? That’s the statutory framework that allows twitchy, paranoid Neighborhood Watchmen to use deadly force if they feel threatened. The idea is, if it’s only the bad guys who are attacking people, then the good guys will get hurt. But if all of us are walking around with a 9 mm in our belt and a free license to shoot people we feel threatened by, then what could possibly go wrong? Well, now a segment of House Armed Services Committee would like to implement something kind of similar. But with nuclear weapons. In the Korean peninsula.
The House Armed Services Committee recently adopted an amendment to the 2013 spending bill which seeks to “redeploy tactical nuclear weapons to the Western Pacific region” in response to recent nuclear weapons and missile tests by North Korea. The new amendment also requires Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to submit a report on the possibility of redeploying “forward-based nuclear weapons” to the area. The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and was approved by a vote of 32-26, with all Republicans, except for Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), and two Democrats in favor.
The United States initially began stockpiling nuclear weapons in South Korea in 1958 as part of Eisenhower’s strategy of “massive retaliation,” eventually reaching a height of 950 warheads. However, in December 1991, President George H.W. Bush completely withdrew the nukes in order to facilitate the 1992 Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, in which the two Koreas agreed not to test, produce, manufacture, possess, receive, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons. The new amendment now seeks to reverse this process, because denuclearization is SO 1992. Re-nuclearization is totally hot in 2012.
The Obama administration quickly shot down the GOP amendment. “Our policy remains support for a nonnuclear Korean Peninsula, so we don’t have any plans to change that policy,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday. “Tactical nuclear weapons, in our view, are unnecessary for the defense of South Korea. So we don’t have any plans or intention to deploy them there.”
Even the South Koreans are saying “Thanks, but no thanks.” A South Korean Ministry of National Defence official recently stated, “There are no changes in our stance about denuclearisation of the peninsula, and redeploying tactical nuclear weapons here will not bring any new deterrent effects.”
As it stands, the United States already has nuclear ballistic missile submarines patrolling the Pacific, along with conventional U.S. forces stationed in Japan. But still, maybe we need to be double-extra-super sure that North Korea knows we mean business? In fact, if renuclearization doesn’t do the trick, maybe we could build a giant stick and start poking Kim Jung-Un in his belly with it like he’s the Pillsbury Dictator-Boy. What could go wrong?
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