US-South Korea Nuclear Weapons Deal To Counter North Korean Threat

The United States and South Korea have agreed on a number of steps aimed at bolstering the two countries’ longstanding defense alliance in the face of growing nuclear threats posed by North Korea.

Under the newly unveiled “Washington Declaration,” the two countries have committed to engaging in deeper dialogue and information sharing efforts and announced the establishment of a nuclear consultative group. The Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group aims to better prepare the Alliance to defend against potential attacks and nuclear use and conduct simulations to inform joint planning efforts.

The U.S. will also enhance the visibility of its strategic assets in the region under the joint declaration, to include an upcoming visit of a nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine to South Korea.

In addition, Seoul will involve in a joint execution and planning for U.S. nuclear operations in a contingency and improve combined exercises and training activities on the application of nuclear deterrence on the Korean Peninsula.

In return, South Korea has agreed not to develop its own nuclear weapons, and reaffirmed its commitment to a bilateral Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy.

The new measures were unveiled by U.S. President Joe Biden and his South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk-yeol during a joint news conference at the White House following bilateral talks.

Biden called the declaration a “prudent step” toward deterrence and in response to North Korea’s advancing nuclear theat.

He warned that a nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies or partners “is not acceptable and will result in the end of whatever regime that would take such an action”.

President Yoon affirmed that South Korea will apply the full range of its capabilities to the Alliance’s combined defense posture. This includes working with the United States to closely connect the capabilities and planning activities of the new South Korea Strategic Command and the U.S.-South Korea Combined Forces Command. Such activities will include a new table-top exercise conducted with U.S. Strategic Command.

Biden said that while the declaration marks a commitment to strengthening the longstanding U.S.-South Korean defense relationship, the two countries also seek “serious and substantial diplomatic breakthroughs” with North Korea to bolster stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Yoon’s official state visit to Washington marks the 70th anniversary of the U.S.-South Korean alliance.

The U.S. has maintained a robust presence in South Korea since the Korean War of 1950 – 1953. More than 28,000 U.S. service members serve on the peninsula alongside South Korean allies.

The South Korean president arrived in Washington on Monday for a five-day visit to the U.S which will include an official state dinner at the White House and meetings with Cabinet officials in Washington.

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