— -- The White House has dismissed a recent proposal by GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump to give Japan and South Korea nuclear weapons, saying such a position would be "catastrophic" for U.S. policy.
"The entire premise of American foreign policy as it relates to nuclear weapons for the last 70 years has been focused on preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons to additional states," White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said Thursday. "That’s been the position of bipartisan administrations, everybody who has occupied the Oval Office."
Rhodes was responding to a question from ABC News about Trump's interview with The New York Times in which the New York businessman suggested giving South Korea and Japan nuclear weapons to counter the threat from North Korea.
Trump doubled down on his proposal Tuesday in a CNN town hall, saying the U.S. "can't afford" to protect countries like Japan anymore.
"Frankly it would be catastrophic were the United States to shift its position and indicate that we support somehow the proliferation of nuclear weapons to additional countries," Rhodes said.
President Obama held a meeting Thursday afternoon with South Korean President Park Geun-Hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the threat posed by North Korea at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Obama noted the importance of not allowing North Korea's provocations to spur a nuclear arms race in the region.
Rhodes used the meeting to go after Trump's suggestion of pulling U.S. support from the region.
"You know I think an idea like that is not particularly relevant to the very serious discussions we are having here," Rhodes said. "It also flies in the face of decades of national security doctrine.”