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    Jan 08, 2016

    S. Korea seeks US military assets after North's 'nuclear test'


    SOUTH Korea is discussing with Washington ways to deploy United States "strategic" military assets on its soil, the country's Defence Ministry said yesterday, following North Korea's latest nuclear test a day earlier.

    Key high-end US military assets deployable to the Korean peninsula include a nuclear-powered submarine, the F-22 stealth combat fighter and the B-52 bomber, the South's Yonhap news agency reported.

    "Specifics, including when the strategic assets will come here, have not been concluded yet," a South Korean defence official said.

    On Wednesday, North Korea claimed it had successfully conducted a hydrogen bomb test, which drew worldwide condemnation.

    The defence chiefs of South Korea and China are also considering a teleconference on their recently established military hotline about the test, the official said.

    Earlier, Defence Minister Han Min Koo said South Korea will push for the early installation of the Kill Chain and Korean Air and Missile Defence - both indigenous defence systems - to guard against missile and nuclear threats from the North.

    The systems were originally aimed to be completed by the mid-2020s, said Yonhap.

    South Korean President Park Geun Hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday also spoke with US President Barack Obama on the North's test, with all agreeing that it merited the most powerful and comprehensive sanctions, the Agence France-Presse reported.

    But the South's Dong-A daily yesterday quoted a defence official as saying that Pyongyang's latest nuclear claim was not authenticated yet, as "current analysis shows what had been tested was not a full-fledged hydrogen bomb" and "possibly not even an amplified nuclear fission weapon".

    Questioning the North's claim, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in Washington: "There is nothing that has occurred in the last 24 hours that has caused the US government to change our assessment of North Korea's technical and military capabilities."