(Washington) The United States will send a nuclear submarine to South Korea for the first time in decades in an effort to bolster deterrence against threats from the northern neighbor, a senior US official said Wednesday.
The “occasional” deployment of this nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarine is to be announced as part of a “Washington Declaration” to be adopted by US President Joe Biden and his South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk Yeol, who is on a state visit to the United States, according to the senior official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
This statement, which recalls measures taken at the “height of the Cold War”, according to this source, also sets up a mechanism for consultation and exchange of information with Seoul on nuclear matters, which aims to strengthen the American security umbrella and reassure the South Korean ally.
“The United States hasn’t taken such action, really, since the days of the Cold War with a handful of our closest allies in Europe,” the official said.
“ We seek to ensure that by taking these measures our commitment to enhanced deterrence is not subject to any questioning”, he added shortly before the interview between MM. Biden and Yoon at the White House.
North Korea has conducted a record level of ballistic missile launches this year.
Another official, also on condition of anonymity, assured that the United States had no intention of stationing nuclear weapons in South Korea.
In addition, Seoul will reaffirm in the declaration its commitment not to seek to acquire its own nuclear arsenal.
For the United States, it is a question of making “ our deterrent system more visible through the deployment at regular intervals of strategic means, including the visit of a nuclear submarine in South Korea, which does not hasn’t been produced since the early 1980s,” said the manager.
In addition to the submarines, there will be “ a regular cadence of visits from bombers and aircraft carriers ”. But there will be “no stationing of these means or of course nuclear weapons”, he said.
The official said that the American authorities had warned the Chinese beforehand in order to explain to them “the reasoning” behind these measures, while Beijing is likely to denounce a new escalation in the region.
He again expressed Washington’s “disappointment” which deplores that Beijing has not “used its influence” on Pyongyang.
Presidents Biden and Yoon will take further steps in cyber, economic and climate change cooperation.
The South Korean president’s state visit is only the second by a foreign leader under President Biden, following that of French President Emmanuel Macron last December.
It will take place on Wednesday with a welcome ceremony at the White House followed by an interview and a gala dinner.
The capital has been adorned with South Korean flags for several days already.
Arriving in the capital on Tuesday, the South Korean president visited Arlington Cemetery, as well as NASA’s Goddard Space Center near Washington, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris.
He also visited Tuesday evening with President Biden at the Korean War Memorial, located in the center of the capital and showing human-sized steel figurines of soldiers on patrol during the Korean War (1950-1953) against the communist north.