• Kyodo

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The United States has told Japan it will keep it under its “nuclear umbrella” even after it gives North Korea security assurances in exchange for Pyongyang abandoning its nuclear arms program.

Washington’s promise to Japan, made in September, is expected to infuriate North Korea, despite Pyongyang’s positive response to U.S. President George W. Bush’s earlier proposal of a multilateral written security assurance, analysts said.

It may also affect the process of preparing the security assurance document, sources familiar with Japan-U.S. relations said Thursday.

Japan had been concerned that if security assurances were given to North Korea, the U.S. would be unable to take appropriate military measures against the country if it attacked Japan.

Other North Korean threats to Japan — biological and chemical weapons, ballistic missiles and conventional forces — will remain even after Pyongyang gives up developing nuclear arms.

The U.S. is therefore showing its commitment to fulfilling its obligation to protect Japan under a bilateral security pact, the sources said.

While maintaining a national policy of not processing, producing or allowing nuclear arms in Japan, the Japanese government has remained dependent on U.S. nuclear deterrence since the Cold War for security against its assumed hostile neighbors — the former Soviet Union, China and North Korea.

Under the umbrella, U.S. forces with nuclear-equipped ballistic missiles, strikers and submarines will hit enemies that attack U.S. allies. The arrangement serves to deter pre-emptive attacks against Japan.

At a two-day unofficial meeting in Tokyo that began Sept. 29, the U.S. told Japan of its plan to maintain the nuclear umbrella even after giving the North its security assurances, the sources said. South Korea also took part in the talks.

But the U.S. did not provide a written plan of what form of nuclear umbrella it would guarantee, the sources said.

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