TOKYO, Jan 30 (KUNA) - North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday highlighted the importance of the US extended deterrence for South Korea, saying it has an "extremely important task" amid Pyongyang's growing nuclear threats, Yonhap News Agency reported.
Stoltenberg made the remarks during a forum in Seoul hosted by a South Korean think tank, responding to a question on the sensitive issue of whether Seoul needs a nuclear-sharing policy with the US, akin to NATO's Nuclear Planning Group.
"I think it is important to understand that what we call extended deterrence, meaning that NATO allies and also some NATO partners, like South Korea, don't have their own nuclear weapons but are covered by the nuclear deterrence that the US provides. That is where to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons," he was quoted as saying.
Stoltenberg also stressed NATO will "remain a nuclear alliance" as long as nuclear weapons exist, saying the world will be more dangerous if NATO allies, including the US and France, get rid of their nuclear weapons amid nuclear threats from Russia, China and North Korea. "So, we think that as long as nuclear weapons exist, especially as long as we see that authoritarian powers are having them in Russia and investing heavily in mobilizing them, as we see what China is doing, increasing the number of weapons on the range and also what North Korea is doing, then nuclear deterrence still has an extremely important task to fulfill," he said.
In his meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin on Sunday, Stoltenberg said North Korean support of Russia in the war in Ukraine reinforces the need for the rest of the world to stay "interconnected" in their security efforts. The NATO chief arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a two-day visit and is set to depart for Japan later in the day. (end) mk.aa