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South Korea touts ‘upgraded’ military ties with US

The two allies recently vowed to improve cooperation on a range of security issues, including US nuclear deployments

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has said Washington and Seoul agreed to “upgrade” their military alliance, hailing the closer defense ties after his recent trip to the US capital.

Addressing a cabinet meeting on Monday, Yoon highlighted the joint declaration made during his visit to Washington, DC last week, which announced enhanced military coordination between the US and South Korea in several different areas, as well as plans to boost trade and investment. 

“The alliance has gotten a nuclear-based upgrade, and expanded to include supply chain, industrial and science and technology alliances,” the president said.


The declaration also announced the creation of a new ‘Nuclear Consultative Group’ by the US and South Korea, which is intended to “strengthen extended deterrence” and enhance cooperation on nuclear planning between the two countries.

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President Joe Biden toasts with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol during a state dinner at the White House in Washington, DC, April 26, 2023.
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As part of the stepped-up military ties, last week Yoon and his American counterpart Joe Biden announced that the US would deploy nuclear-armed submarines and bombers to the Korean Peninsula, hoping the move would deter future weapons tests by North Korea.

Pyongyang responded harshly following Yoon’s visit, condemning the “regular and continuous deployment of US nuclear strategic assets and the frequent military exercises” around the Korean peninsula by Washington and Seoul, which the DPRK has frequently denounced as rehearsal for an attack. 


Though some South Korean officials have discussed the possibility that Seoul might seek to develop its own nuclear weapons, during his visit to the United States Yoon said such a move would go against his country’s values and its commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“Nuclear weapons are not just a matter of technology. There are complex politics and economics and political and economic equations related to nuclear weapons,” he told an audience at Harvard University’s Kennedy School in Massachusetts. “There are various values and interests that must be given up when possessing nuclear weapons.”

Though South Korea has vowed to never build nuclear weapons under the NPT, it is ostensibly protected under the US ‘nuclear umbrella,’ meaning Washington has promised to use its own nuclear arsenal in Seoul’s defense under certain conditions in the event it is attacked.

READ MORE: China accuses US of destabilizing Korean peninsula


May 02, 2023 at 10:47AM

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