Defense chief: Seoul to remain nuke-free

July 19, 2009 at 4:53 PM

SEOUL, July 19 (UPI) -- South Korea doesn't need nuclear weapons to counter a nuclear threat from the North, Seoul's defense minister says.

Disputing calls by conservatives that South Korean needs to obtain such weapons for its security, Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee told state-owned broadcaster KTV in an interview Sunday that Seoul's goal remains a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

"The government has constantly pushed for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula since joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1975 and will continue to do so," Lee said. "The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should be maintained."

Lee's comments came after right-leaning politicians have demanded that South Korean gain "nuclear sovereignty" over the North in the wake of Pyongyang's second nuclear test in May, the news agency said.

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