(CTN News) – According to senior Biden administration officials, Presidents Joe Biden and Yoon Suk Yeol will sign an agreement on Wednesday that includes plans to have U.S. nuclear-armed submarines dock in South Korea for the first time in more than 40 years.
This will be a prominent demonstration of support for Seoul amid growing concerns about North Korea’s nuclear threats.
The upcoming dock visits are a crucial component of the “Washington Declaration,” which aims to dissuade North Korea from attacking its neighbour.
It is being introduced as Biden hosts Yoon on a state visit at a time when both leaders are feeling particularly anxious due to North Korea’s recent increase in the frequency of ballistic missile testing.
Prior to the official announcement, three senior Biden administration officials who briefed reporters on the plan said they had been working on the specifics for months and had come to the consensus that “occasional”.
And “very clear demonstrations of the strength” of American extended deterrence capabilities needed to be a crucial component of the agreement.
The deal aims to soothe South Korea’s concerns over the North’s aggressive nuclear weapons programme and prevent it from resuming its own nuclear program.
Which it abandoned when it ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty nearly 50 years ago.
Yoon previously stated that his nation was debating whether to develop its own nuclear weapons or request that the United States relocate them to the Korean Peninsula.
However, operational control of such weapons would stay in U.S. control, and no nuclear weapons are being transported onto South Korean coastlines.
The U.S. and South Korea would also closely coordinate on a nuclear response strategy in the event that the North attacked the South.
Before their private talks on Wednesday morning, Biden and Yoon delivered statements during a pomp-filled arrival ceremony in front of close to 7,000 visitors on the White House lawn.
Joe Biden emphasized the determination of both countries to collaborate in order to maintain Indo-Pacific security
“We’re taking on the challenges of the world, and we’re taking them on together,” added Biden.
The state visit coincides with the 70th anniversary of the alliance between the United States and South Korea, which was established at the end of the Korean War and committed the United States to aid South Korea in self-defense, notably against North Korea.
Currently, there are 28,500 American soldiers stationed in South Korea.
Why did they risk their lives for this distant nation and for others you have never met? Yoon spoke about the American soldiers who fought in the conflict. “That was done for the defence of freedom, a noble cause.”
The agreement also mandates improved South Korean military asset integration into the combined strategic deterrence operation and strengthened collaborative training between the U.S. and South Korean forces.
According to the officials, as part of the proclamation, South Korea would reaffirm its adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which was signed by a number of significant nuclear and non-nuclear powers and committed them to working together to prevent the spread of nuclear technology.
Yoon pledged as a presidential candidate last year that he would push for a larger deployment of American bombers, aircraft carriers.
And nuclear submarines to South Korea in an effort to respond to the North’s threats more forcefully than Moon Jae-in had.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, South Korean ports were frequently visited by American nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines during the height of the Cold War in the late 1970s, sometimes twice or three times per month.
It was a time when South Korea was home to a large number of American nuclear bombs.
But when the US withdrew all of its nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula in 1991, Pyongyang and Seoul agreed to a joint declaration promising not to “test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons.”
However, as a result of the North’s persistent violations of the agreement over time, there is growing support in South Korea for the United States to hand over its nuclear arsenal.
One official in the Biden administration issued a warning, stating that it is “crystal clear” that the administration has no intentions of “returning tactical or any other kind of nuclear weapon to the Korean Peninsula.”
Instead, administration officials stated that they hope that the deployment of bombers or aircraft carriers by the U.S. military to South Korea will be more frequent after the visit of ballistic missile submarines.
The Biden administration has been compelled to broaden its Asian alliance as a result of North Korea’s rising nuclear threats and worries about China’s military and economic aggression in the area.
To that purpose, Biden has given Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida a lot of attention. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines will meet with Biden in the Oval Office the following week.
North Korea has been rapidly increasing the size of its nuclear arsenal over the past year.
While China and Russia have consistently thwarted American efforts to impose more severe sanctions on the North due to its constant conduct of prohibited missile launches.
The first flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile using solid fuel took place earlier this month as part of North Korea’s increased testing.
The most recent test is viewed as a potential advancement in the North’s pursuit of a more potent, more difficult-to-detect weapon aimed at the continental United States.
Along with nuclear deterrence, Biden, Yoon, and their assistants are anticipated to speak about Russia’s ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Although South Korea has received accolades from the Biden administration for contributing around $230 million in humanitarian aid to Kyiv.
Biden would welcome Seoul playing an even larger role in aiding the Ukrainians in their fight against Russia
Yoon’s visit takes place only a few weeks after the release of a large number of highly secret papers, which affected relations with allies like South Korea.
According to the documents seen by The Associated Press, the National Security Council of South Korea “grappled” with the American government in early March over the latter’s demand that Ukraine get artillery ammo.
According to the documents, which cited a signals intelligence report, the former NSC Director Kim Sung-han argued that since sending the 155 millimetre ammunition to Ukraine as soon as possible was the United States’ ultimate goal, it could be possible to sell the 330,000 rounds of ammunition to Poland.
According to a member of the Biden administration, Biden intended to speak with Yoon and inquire about “what it means for all like-minded allies to continue to support Ukraine” and “what the future of their support might look like.”
In addition to their discussions on Wednesday, Yoon and Biden will hold a joint news conference.
Yoon and his wife, Kim Keon Hee, will be honoured at a state dinner at the White House in the evening by Vice President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden.
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