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Trump 'appreciates' S. Korea's purchases of U.S. weapons

Trump 'appreciates' S. Korea's purchases of U.S. weapons

Posted April. 13, 2019 07:55,   

Updated April. 13, 2019 07:55


U.S. President Donald Trump said during an opening remark at a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday (local time) that South Korea "agreed to purchase a tremendous amount of our military equipment, from jet fighters to missiles, to lots of other things. Trump added that he "appreciate the purchase."

A South Korean military official said that there was no discussion on any additional weapons purchase at the latest summit, noting that the U.S. leader was referring to arms purchase deals that had already been decided. In other words, Trump mentioned Seoul's purchase of U.S. military equipment in order to promote the outcome of the summit.

However, some analysts speculate that the remark was a de facto demand that South Korea purchase more U.S. weapons, considering that Trump has often used the summits with South Korea to promote the U.S. weapons sales. For instance, it is possible that the U.S. will seek to sell additional weapons to South Korea on the conditions that Washington accepts Seoul's demands in the negotiations for sharing the cost for keeping U.S. troops in South Korea. In that case, Seoul could purchase addition F-35A stealth jets or the joint surveillance and target attack radar system (JSTARS). The South Korean military wants to introduce the JSTARS, as it is capable of conducing through surveillance of North Korea's ground forces including tanks and troops.

In addition, the MH-60R Seahawk multi-mission helicopter is considered a strong candidate for Seoul's second project for acquiring maritime operational helicopters. A European model was selected in the first project. It is also possible for Seoul to import the SM-3 interceptor missile to be mounted on Aegis-class destroyers. Costing some 22 million U.S. dollars per unit, the SM-3 missile is capable for intercepting North Korean ballistic missiles at an altitude between 150 and 500 kilometers. The introduction of the SM-3 missile would provide South Korea with another layer of missile defense in addition to the Patriot and THAAD systems.

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com