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Yoon’s U.S. visit to focus on nuclear umbrella and semiconductor industry

Yoon’s U.S. visit to focus on nuclear umbrella and semiconductor industry

Posted March. 09, 2023 07:44,   

Updated March. 09, 2023 07:44


The success of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s visit to the U.S. on April 26 will be decided by two security and economy-related agendas: how much South Korea will participate in the process of the U.S. providing extended deterrence (nuclear umbrella) to address North Korea’s nuclear threats; and how to address the Inflation Reduction Act’s negative impact on South Korean businesses.

“We will actively look for ways to strengthen the nuclear deterrence of the ROK-U.S. alliance against North Korea during President Yoon’s visit to the U.S.,” Kim Seong-han, the head of the National Security Office, told reporters in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday (local time). “The South Korean government is asking to participate in the U.S.’s nuclear capabilities and their planning and execution, as well as for information sharing,” said a high-level government official. “It is also requesting the systemization and institutionalization of such procedures.”

The U.S.-provided nuclear umbrella should be enhanced practically to address South Korean people’s concerns about its effectiveness. South Korea and the U.S. will continue discussions to expand South Korea’s participation in the U.S.’s process of providing the nuclear umbrella until the summit meeting between their presidents. As North Korea openly threatened to use strategic nuclear weapons against the South, President Yoon even mentioned South Korea having its own nuclear weapons in January. Then, senior officials of the U.S. sent messages that they would try to gain the trust of South Koreans through extended deterrence, but it didn’t seem enough to address people’s concerns.

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported on Wednesday that the U.S. government suggested setting up a new trilateral consultative body on extended deterrence between South Korea, the U.S., and Japan to strengthen nuclear deterrence power. However, “While security cooperation between the three countries might be emphasized with importance, the South Korean government believes that a bilateral consultative body between South Korea and the U.S. will be much more effective regarding the nuclear umbrella,” said a government source.

How to address the disadvantages to which South Korean businesses are exposed as a result of the Chips and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will be another key agenda to determine the summit's success. “We will try to minimize the possibilities of South Korean businesses being mistreated or facing unexpected uncertainties in the process of the U.S. implementing its industrial policies, such as the IRA and the Chips and Science Act,” said Kim.

Kwan-Seok Jang jks@donga.com