“South Korea can do much more for the ROK-US alliance. There may be no need to be overly dependent on U.S. forces. U.S. aircraft and ships can be shifted to deter China,” said former White House National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien in an interview with The Dong-A Ilbo and Channel A on Monday (local time). The closest aide of former U.S. President Donald Trump is a strong candidate for Secretary of State if Trump is re-elected.
"The challenge for all U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific region, including South Korea, is to respond to an aggressive China,” he said. While dismissing speculation that Trump would pressure South Korea by connecting increased defense spending with the withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea, he also suggested that the configuration and role of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea could be adjusted to keep China in check.
“I agree with that argument as I see that Iran, like North Korea, is developing nuclear weapons without any sanctions,” Mr. O'Brien said when asked how he viewed opinions that South Korea should develop its own nuclear program to protect itself from nuclear imbalance on the peninsula. “North Korea should achieve de-nuclearization. We must prevent bad actors such as Kim Jong Un (North Korean leader) and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Iran’s Supreme Leader) from accessing nuclear weapons.”
He dismissed speculation that Trump would ease sanctions on North Korea in exchange for a nuclear freeze and recognize the country as a nuclear state. “If former President Trump steps forward to negotiate with North Korea, it would be about North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles," he said. "Remember how he left the U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi.” His comments reflect the objective of North Korea’s denuclearization while expressing a negative view towards the idea of South Korea's nuclear armament.