June 03, 2015 11:45
A defense policy bill under deliberation by the U.S. Senate for the first time openly calls North Korea a "nuclear-armed country."
The question has raised some eyebrows since the U.S. maintains an official fiction that North Korea is not a nuclear power and therefore undeserving of equal treatment.
In a section that assesses the current global nuclear environment, the draft National Defense Authorization Act for 2016 says, "During the 25 years preceding the date of the enactment of this Act, additional countries have obtained nuclear weapons. North Korea is a nuclear-armed country and Iran aspires to acquire a nuclear weapons capability."
Some pundits worry that if the North is recognized as a nuclear weapons state as defined by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, international efforts aimed at dismantling its nuclear program might need to be turned into disarmament talks.
But both Seoul and Washington say the term "nuclear-armed country" in the draft bill simply reflects an assessment of the North's capability.
"Both Seoul and Washington are clear on their position that they can't recognize Pyongyang's status as a nuclear weapons state," a government source here said.
But another government official here said, "They should be very careful in selecting the term."
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