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Yoon’s U.S. visit should achieve 2-way alliance sharing values and benefits

Yoon’s U.S. visit should achieve 2-way alliance sharing values and benefits

Posted April. 25, 2023 07:58,   

Updated April. 25, 2023 07:58


South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol began his seven-day visit to the U.S. As this is the first visit by a South Korean president to the U.S. in 12 years to mark the 70th anniversary of establishing the ROK-U.S. alliance, the South Korean government feels pressure to achieve meaningful results. A series of economic issues, including the Inflation Reduction Act, regulations from the Chips and Science Act, and restrictions on the export of nuclear power plants, are listed on the agenda to discuss amid the volatile international affairs and a security crisis in the Korean Peninsula.

Some progress is expected in the U.S.’s extended deterrence. South Korea and the U.S. are planning to stipulate that the U.S. may use nuclear weapons if South Korea is under nuclear attacks by North Korea in a separate joint document. It was also reported that the two countries are discussing a plan to set up a permanent minister-level consultative body to enhance the joint planning and executive capabilities of extended nuclear deterrence. Once finalized, it will hold significance that the U.S. makes an internal and external commitment to nuclear retaliation in an official document ratified by the leaders of the two countries.

The U.S. did not mention that it would use nuclear weapons even when Russia, in a war against Ukraine, threatened to make nuclear attacks several times. Regarding South Korea, the country has only made statements in principle, such as that it will provide extended deterrence by mobilizing military capabilities in all categories, including nuclear weapons and that it will bring an end to North Korea's Kim Jong Un regime. More South Koreans than ever before agree to the nuclear armament of South Korea as North Korea continues its nuclear development. The U.S. should address South Korea’s anxiety and doubts over its nuclear umbrella and respond to a higher level of security demand.

The security situation in the Korean Peninsula is only getting worse, with conflicts between South Korea, China, and Russia caused by military support to Ukraine. A high-level Russian official is not hesitant to make explicit threats by implying that Russia’s newest weapons can be provided to the North. What would make sure that the North does not make wrong judgments in such a situation is the actual effectiveness of a deterrent, rather than a simple document. Concrete measures to ensure joint nuclear planning between South Korea and the U.S., including setting up a permanent high-level consultative body similar to the Nuclear Planning Group of NATO, should be developed.

Comprehensive cooperation plans in various areas, not only military but also economy, technology, space, and cyber, will be discussed during a summit to be held in Washington on Wednesday. It should serve as an opportunity to make a public announcement that the bilateral alliance marking its 70th anniversary is expanding holistically and evolving into a two-way cooperative relationship that shares values and benefits. Protecting the Korean Peninsula’s security based on iron-clad cooperation is the foundation for all discussions. Optimal agreements that can guarantee a win-win for both countries should be found in the key economic and security domains, such as electric vehicles and semiconductors.