U.S. assistant secretary of defense says that U.S. can react to North Korean chemical and biological weapons with conventional forces

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer

Wallace Gregson, U.S. assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, spoke in Tokyo on February 1. With regard to the threat posed by North Korea's chemical and biological weapons, Mr. Gregson said, "We might resolve the threat without resorting to nuclear weapons," expressing his view that the United States can react to such threats with conventional forces.

The comment reflects a stance of considering a more limited role for nuclear weapons. At the same time, Mr. Gregson stated, "Japan and the United States will strengthen their alliance to maintain an effective deterrent unless North Korea gives up its nuclear ambitions."

Viewing North Korea's chemical and biological weapons as one justification, the Japanese government has sought deterrence through the U.S. "nuclear umbrella." Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada gave a speech on foreign policy at the plenary session of both houses of the Diet on January 29. Mr. Okada remarked, "I have taken interest in the idea of limiting the role of nuclear weapons to nuclear deterrence."

Mr. Gregson arrived in Japan to attend the Senior Officials Meeting on Japan and U.S. Security Affairs to be held at the Foreign Ministry on February 2.

(Originally published on February 2, 2010)