The U.S.-Korea Special Measures Agreement (SMA) is dividing the opinions of the U.S. Congress. Some U.S. senators argue that the costs of U.S. forces should be shared fairly considering the significant contribution Seoul has made whereas some Republicans support the Trump administration that seeks a five-fold increase in Seoul’s contributions, creating an unusual conflict for a congress that has always presented a united front when it comes to diplomatic security issues.
When asked about the burden-sharing mechanism in an interview with VOA on Tuesday (local time), Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, who is also a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, said the Trump administration needs to recognize that South Korea is “a valuable ally that has contributed significantly to mutual defense and security, particularly against North Korea.”
Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan also said that the United States appreciates the resources South Korea has provided especially for the construction of Camp Humphreys, a new U.S. army base. Seoul paid 90 percent of the construction costs. He added that we need to remind ourselves of the comprehensive strategic goal of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and the path we have walked together on as long-standing allies when approaching the SMA negotiations. He expressed his concern in a Congress hearing in July that the failure to reach a consensus can lead to the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Korea, a result China and Russia would welcome.
Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine criticized President Trump’s approach. He said that the safety of the United States depends and will depend on the power of alliances and it is not right to publicly attack one of the closest allies just because it disagrees with us.