S. Korea mulled whether to unveil deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons: dossier

South Korea had mulled whether to disclose the fact that nuclear weapons were deployed to U.S. troops stationed in the country in the 1950s to avoid provoking North Korea, a declassified diplomatic dossier showed Friday. The set of documents from 1993, released by the foreign ministry, showed South Korea had considered disclosing documents from the 1950s related to the U.S. deployment of nuclear weapons amid concerns it could affect denuclearization talks with the North. On Oct. 9, 1993, the foreign ministry had sent an official letter to the defense minister seeking his opinion on revealing 30-year-old documents on the reduction and reorganization of South Korean troops, and deployment of nuclear weapons to the U.S. Air Force. The documents concerning the ministry point to the fact that nuclear weapons were deployed to Seoul. In a letter dated Jan. 28, 1958, to then President Rhee Syng-man, then Defense Minister Kim Chung-yul wrote "as Your Excellency is aware of, a 280-mm nuclear artillery has been bro ught into Korea since Jan. 22, 1958." Kim wrote to Rhee again in April, saying, "One of the U.S. Air Force medium range guided missile units equipped with 6 launchers and 60 atomic warheads will be stationed at Osan Air Base (K-55)." The South Korean Embassy in the U.S. and the defense ministry considered it undesirable to unveil the documents until the North Korean nuclear issue was resolved. The embassy wrote to the foreign minister that revealing the documents goes against the policy of "neither confirm nor deny" that the two countries have maintained. It also said the North is likely to use the documents as propaganda or evidence to claim the need to inspect U.S. military bases in South Korea. Authorities were likely concerned the documents could affect the diplomatic climate then, given that 1993 was an important year in nuclear negotiations with North Korea. The North announced its plan to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in March and held its first talks with the U.S. in Jun e. While South Korea publicly declared in 1991 that there were no U.S. nuclear weapons in the country, revealing such past records could have provoked the North or negatively affected the ongoing nuclear negotiations. On Friday, the foreign ministry declassified the 370,000-page dossier. The 30-year-old documents have been made public at the ministry's diplomatic archives. Source: Yonhap News Agency

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