The prospect of Japan and South Korea obtaining nuclear weapons would be incredibly destabilizing, the White House said on Wednesday, following comments made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who said the two U.S. allies should build such weapons to deter enemies.
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"Mr. Trump's suggestion that somehow we should encourage our allies in South Korea to develop nuclear weapons is directly contrary to a policy that the United States has long pursued and that the international community has long supported," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at a daily briefing.
Trump said in an interview with the New York Times published Sunday that asking Japan and South Korea to pay more for their own defence "could mean nuclear."
He said the issue "at some point is something that we have to talk about."
Japan opposed to nuclear weapons
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Monday his country's "three principles" of not owning, making or allowing nuclear weapons "remain an important basic policy of the government."
Suga, Japan's top government spokesman, declined to comment specifically on Trump's statement, saying he is only running for the presidential nomination at this point.
He expressed confidence that the U.S.-Japan alliance will remain a pillar of Japanese policy, no matter who wins the U.S. presidential election in November.
South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang Gyun said he had no comment on Trump's remarks.
Asked in general about a U.S. troop withdrawal, he said South Korea believes that its alliance with the United States remains strong.
North Korea's development of nuclear weapons has prompted questions about whether other Asian nations would feel the need to follow suit.