President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s policy consultation delegation to the U.S. met with U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday (local time) and discussed the deployment of U.S. strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula, including aircraft carriers and strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
Park Jin, head of the delegation, said the two sides shared the understanding that North Korea’s nuclear and missile development poses a threat to regional security as well as the Korean Peninsula. Park said the two sides consulted on the need to strengthen nuclear deterrence and joint defense posture, adding they also discussed the deployment of strategic assets, which is an important factor in strengthening extended deterrence.
The deployment of U.S. strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula is known to be North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s most feared military response. Following North Korea’s sixth nuclear test in September 2017, the U.S. caught North Korea off guard by deploying B-1B bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons to 150 kilometers north of the Northern Limit Line (NLL). During when the U.S. maximized engagement with North Korea, however, the deployment of U.S. strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula was reduced along with ROK-U.S. joint military exercises.
Yoon’s delegation also delivered the president-elect’s letter to U.S. President Joe Biden on the same day to Sullivan. The letter contains a message that South Korea and the U.S. should take their bilateral alliance to the next level as a comprehensive strategic alliance in order to jointly respond to new challenges, including North Korea’s nuclear threat, economy, and security, according to the delegation.
Park said he and Sullivan also discussed the need for an early summit between South Korea and the U.S. after the new administration takes office, adding they agreed that the summit should be packed with issues critical to strengthening the alliance.