Sept. 11 (UPI) — Concern is rising in China the United States may be launching an arms race in the region, following a statement from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., which did not rule out nuclear armament for South Korea and Japan.
McCain said on Sunday the relocation of tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea “should be seriously considered,” during an appearance on Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“If you allow [Kim Jong Un] to have nuclear weapons and South Korea and Japan and others, who are under our ‘nuclear umbrella,’ don’t, I think that’s not balanced,” the U.S. senator said.
Chinese state tabloid Global Times issued an editorial on Monday the United States is “accelerating the militarization of the Northeast Asian region by approving the sale of weapons to its allies, using North Korea‘s nuclear weapons as a pretext.”
“This poses a threat to the security of regional countries such as China and Russia,” Chinese state media said. “As the arms race continues, and weapons such as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD] increases, it would make the regional situation more dangerous.”
Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based commentator on military affairs, said China should be prepared for an increase in Patriot and Tomahawk missiles in the region, as well as other weapons capable of hitting North Korean weapons facilities.
“The reason the United States is accelerating arms in Northeast Asia is to minimize the damage caused by military conflicts, by providing more weapons to allies,” Song said.
In South Korea, speculation is rising the tactical nuclear weapon to be redeployed to the peninsula, should the acquisition take place, is likely the B61 nuclear bomb, a strategic and tactical nuclear weapon with a yield of up to 350 kilotons, local newspaper Segye Ilbo reported.
South Korean politicians are divided over redeployment.
Ruling party progressives say the relocation of tactical nuclear weapons could place South Korea in greater danger.
Choo Mi-ae of the liberal Democratic Party said no nuclear weapon has deterred nuclear threats and urged for a diplomatic solution, News 1 reported.