A top White House national security official dismissed as potentially "catastrophic" a proposal by Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump suggesting Japan and South Korea acquire nuclear weapons to counter the threat from North Korea.
Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said allowing Japan and South Korea to become nuclear powers would run counter to 70 years of US foreign policy backed by both Democrats and Republicans.
Asked about the remarks at the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by President Barack Obama in Washington, Rhodes said it "would be catastrophic" if the US were to suddenly shift position on the issue of nuclear non-proliferation and noted US military support for the allies is the bedrock of US involvement in the Asia Pacific region.
At a CNN town hall this week, Trump said it would be better for allies like Japan and South Korea to have the weapons when nations like North Korea and Pakistan already have them. He also charged that the US should no longer provide defence for the Asian allies unless they pay more for the service.
"Wouldn't you rather in a certain sense have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons?" Trump said.