US to share nuclear planning information with South Korea
The US has said it will coordinate more closely with South Korea on the nuclear threat posed by the North
The United States has pledged to give South Korea greater insight into its nuclear planning over any conflict with North Korea, on Wednesday, amid growing calls for Seoul to build its own arsenal.
The announcement was made at the White House during a state visit from South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol which covered a range of topics including growing tensions around Taiwan, semiconductor trade and the Ukraine war.
The document also renewed South Korea's pledge to not pursue a nuclear bomb of its own — something the US has opposed but which has become a more serious topic of discussion in Seoul amid the development of Pyongyang's capabilities.
US President Joe Biden said that even having acquired a nuclear arsenal, North Korea could never use it.
"Look, a nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies or partners is unacceptable and will result in the end of whatever regime, were it to take such an action," Biden said at a press conference with Yoon in Washington.
Details of the declaration
Dubbed the "Washington Declaration," the pledge states that the US will give Seoul insights into and a voice in US' contingency planning to deter and respond to any nuclear incident in the region.
Biden will also deploy a ballistic missile submarine to South Korea in a show of force, the first such submarine visit to the peninsula since the 1980s, according to US officials.
However, no nuclear weapons will be stationed in South Korea, the president clarified.
"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," Biden said.
Opinion polls in South Korea have shown that a majority want Seoul to procure its own nuclear bombs. North Korea's rapidly growing weapons arsenal, including long-range ballistic missiles that can reach US cities, have increased anxieties in the peninsula.
In light of that, the Washington Declaration falls short and is "unlikely to either persuade North Korea off its current course of WMD development and testing or to quiet the debate inside South Korea about its own nuclear future," Jenny Town of the Washington-based North Korea monitoring group 38 North told Reuters.
mk/msh (Reuters, AP)
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