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A Nuclear Submarine from the United States Visits South Korea After 40 Years


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South Korean President Yoon Sok-yul and President Joe Biden announce enhanced nuclear cooperation between the United States and South Korea amid threats from North Korea.

Before Yoon’s arrival, senior US officials told reporters that the two leaders would announce measures to strengthen deterrence against North Korea, including the deployment of the first US nuclear missile submarine in the country in decades.

Senior administration officials told reporters in a briefing that Washington will deploy imposed military technology, including a ballistic missile submarine, to South Korea in a show of force. They said it would be the first submarine visit of its kind since the 1980s.

The officials stressed that no US nuclear weapons would be returned to the peninsula, and that South Korea would continue to have no control over the US nuclear arsenal.

They said South Korea would also reaffirm its commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its non-nuclear status.

“This was modeled after what we did with European allies during the height of the Cold War in similar periods of potential external threat,” said a senior Biden administration official.

The agreed steps are fewer than some in South Korea have called for and are unlikely to change the direction of North Korea’s nuclear program. But they may allow Yoon to argue with his home audience that Washington takes South Korea’s concerns seriously.

What will be known as Washington’s announcement, the officials said, would form a US-South Korean advisory group, giving Seoul more information and input on nuclear policy — though Washington would retain sole control of its weapons.

The arrangement – in response to ever-increasing tension over communist North Korea’s missile tests and nuclear arsenal – mirrors moves last seen when Washington oversaw Europe’s defense against the Soviet Union.

“The United States has not taken these steps, really, since the height of the Cold War with our closest handful of allies in Europe. And we are seeking to ensure that by taking these new actions, these new steps, our commitment to extended deterrence is unquestionable,” the senior official said. “.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stressed that there are no plans to station US nuclear weapons in South Korea — which is different from the Cold War, when US strategic weapons were deployed in Europe.

In addition, Seoul will reiterate its pledge in the declaration not to seek a nuclear arsenal of its own.

Submarine and aircraft carriers

“We will announce that we intend to take steps to make our deterrence more visible through the regular deployment of strategic assets, including the visit of a US nuclear submarine to South Korea, which has not happened since the early 1980s,” an official said.

In addition to submarines, there will be a “regular beat” for other major platforms, “including bombers or aircraft carriers,” the official said, emphasizing that there will be “no base for those assets and certainly no nuclear weapons.”

An official said steps are being taken in advance to defuse potential tensions with Beijing over the tougher military stance.

“We are briefing the Chinese in advance and making it very clear why we are taking these steps,” the official said, adding that the Biden administration is “disappointed that China has not been willing to use its influence” in North Korea.

Yun is only the second foreign leader to invite Biden for a state visit. A day packed with high-level meetings and celebrations will conclude with a sumptuous formal dinner in the historic East Hall.

Yun will address a joint session of Congress on Thursday and have lunch with US Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. On Friday, he is scheduled to visit the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University in Boston, before returning home on Saturday.

A military honor guard and hundreds of guests crowded outside the White House as Yoon and his wife, Kim Kyun Hee, arrived for a day of pomp and celebration — and far-reaching geostrategic discussions.

Standing by Yoon’s side, Biden hailed what he called the “unbreakable bond” of the “iron-clad alliance” between the two countries, forged in the Korean War seven decades ago.

“We are redoubling our cooperation as allies even as (North Korea) intensifies its challenges,” Biden said to Leon at the start of the Oval Office talks.

Yoon responded by saying that the US-South Korea alliance is not a “contractual” but an “eternal partnership”.

On Tuesday, Yoon and Biden visited the Korean War Memorial, which houses life-size steel statues of American soldiers who marched during the 1950-1953 war against the communist North.

Yoon also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and joined Harris on a tour of a NASA facility near Washington.

And Yun, in remarks in the Oval Office with Biden seated at his side, appeared to be criticizing China and Russia for what the West considers aggressive policies.

“Mr. President, attempts to change the status quo by force, fragmentation and disruption of the supply chain, and challenges in food and energy security threaten world peace and stability,” Yoon said.

North Korea’s rapidly advancing weapons programs – including ballistic missiles that can reach US cities – have raised questions about whether the US would actually use its nuclear weapons to defend South Korea under what it calls “extended deterrence”.

Polls in South Korea show that a majority of the public wants Seoul to possess its nuclear bombs, a move Washington opposes.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby told a news briefing that the summit is expected to produce “major outputs” on issues such as expanded deterrence, cybersecurity, climate mitigation, foreign aid and economic investment.

U.S. officials said that under the new “Washington Declaration,” the United States will provide South Korea with detailed insights into, and articulation of, U.S. contingency plans to deter and respond to any nuclear incident in the region through the U.S.-ROK Nuclear Advisory Group.

The officials said the United States is briefing China in advance on the steps, a measure that signals desires to ease tensions in relations in the region.

This is only the second visit Biden has hosted since taking office two years ago – and the first such guest was the president of France.

Despite all this extravagance, Yoon’s visit comes at a time of great anxiety in the region.

A poll released on April 6 by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul showed that 64% of South Koreans supported the development of nuclear weapons, with 33% opposed.

Yoon, in an interview with Reuters last week, signaled for the first time a softening of his position on providing weapons to Ukraine, saying his government might “not only insist on humanitarian or financial support” in the event of a full-scale attack on Ukraine. civilians or “a situation the international community cannot condone”. The topic is expected to be discussed on Wednesday, along with climate change and cyber security.

Washington has looked fondly at Yoon’s willingness to help Ukraine and seek rapprochement with Japan, the other major US ally in Northeast Asia, and at the wave of Korean tech investment in the US since taking office, which officials say is now close to $100 million.

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