US submarines to dock in South Korea in show of force as countries reach landmark nuclear pact
The United States has pledged to share with South Korea more details about its nuclear planning as the two countries signed a landmark pact amid anxiety over North Korea’s growing arsenal of missiles and bombs.
The “Washington Declaration” would also see American ballistic-armed submarines periodically dock in South Korea in a show of support in the face of Pyongyang’s threats.
US President Joe Biden stressed that US nuclear weapons would not be stationed on South Korean territory.
“I have absolute authority as commander in chief and the sole authority to use a nuclear weapon, but … what the declaration means is that we’re going to make every effort to consult with our allies when it’s appropriate, if any action is so called for,” Mr Biden said.
He added: “A nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies and partners is unacceptable, and will result in the end of whatever regime were to take such an action.”
Following talks at the White House, Mr Biden and South Korean leader Yoon Suk Yeol celebrated their agreements at a glittering dinner attended by Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie.
In a surprise performance that was met with cheers and applause from the dining room full of high-profile guests, Mr Yoon sang American Pie. He was gifted a guitar signed by Don McLean, the song’s original artist.
“Our two countries have agreed to immediate bilateral presidential consultations in the event of North Korea’s nuclear attack and promised to respond swiftly, overwhelmingly and decisively using the full force of the alliance, including the United States’ nuclear weapons,” Mr Yoon said at a press conference prior to the dinner.
The US will in future give Seoul more detailed insights into, and a voice in, US contingency planning to deter and respond to any nuclear threat in the region through a newly formed Nuclear Consultative Group, Washington officials said.
North Korea’s rapidly advancing weapons programs have raised questions about whether the US would really use its nuclear weapons to defend South Korea under what it calls “extended deterrence”.
Kim Jong-un’s regime has in the past year tested an unprecedented volley of missiles – including weapons which have enough range to impact US cities.
Opinion polls in South Korea show a majority of citizens want their government to acquire its own nuclear bombs, a step Washington opposes. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs last year found 71 percent of survey participants were in favour of South Korea developing its own arsenal, reflecting similar polling by local newspapers.
Mr Yoon this week vowed Seoul would not build nuclear weapons.
Source by [author_name]