U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-Moo stand during a honor cordon at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., August 30, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Aaron P. Bernstein

Top South Korean and US defense officials are discussing a possible rebasing of US tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea following Pyongyang’s latest missile launch.

Korea JoongAng Daily, quoting South Korean government sources, said Seoul is also asking the US for more “strategic assets” that might include procuring nuclear-powered submarines.

The moves were reportedly discussed when Defense Minister Song Young-moo, who is currently visiting Washington, met with US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on Wednesday.

“A possible return of US tactical nuclear weapons, South Korea’s procurement of nuclear-powered submarines, transfer of the wartime operational control from Washington to Seoul and revision of bilateral missile guidelines, which prohibit Seoul from developing advanced missiles, were among the topics discussed,” the sources told JoongAng Daily.

The H.W. Bush administration removed all US tactical nuclear weapons, including nuclear mines designed to stop a North Korean armored attack, from South Korea in the 1990s.

US Lt. General Jack Weinstein said in a March talk at New York’s Harvard Club that basing US nuclear weapons in South Korea could provoke North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to take extreme actions and might not be a good idea. Weinstein is the Pentagon’s “doomsday general” or Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration.

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