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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
29 Apr 2023

NextImg:Nuclear Sharing Not Part of Washington Declaration With South Korea: US Official

The agreement between the United States and South Korea to strengthen U.S. extended deterrence does not constitute a “de facto nuclear sharing” between the two allies, a White House official said.

“I don’t think that we see this as a de facto nuclear sharing,” Edgard Kagan, special assistant to the president and senior director for East Asia and Oceania of the National Security Council, said Thursday.

“I think that we see this as a very significant strengthening of the partnership and the alliance between the ROK and the United States,” he added, referring to South Korea’s official name, the Republic of Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Kagan was commenting on remarks made by Kim Tae-hyo, South Korea’s deputy national security adviser, that the accord would make South Koreans “feel that they are sharing nuclear weapons with the United States.”

The accord, dubbed the Washington Declaration, states that the United States will make “every effort” to consult with South Korea on “any possible nuclear weapons employment” on the Korean Peninsula.

The two allies pledged to form a new Nuclear Consultative Group to “strengthen extended deterrence, discuss nuclear and strategic planning, and manage the threat to the nonproliferation regime” posed by North Korea.

However, Kagan rejected the idea that the declaration amounted to nuclear sharing akin to that of the United States and NATO members and emphasized that the term nuclear sharing carries “significant implications.”

“I think we’ve also made clear that we are working as partners, that this is an area where, obviously, there are significant differences between the United States and the ROK, in terms of the U.S. being a nuclear state under the [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty],” he said.

“But we believe that there’s tremendous room to do more together, and we look forward to doing that,” the U.S. official added.

South Korea, which abandoned its nuclear weapons development program in the 1960s, joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1975.

But increasingly, South Koreans prefer that the nation build its own nuclear arsenal. According to a 2022 poll, 71 percent of South Koreans backed the development of a domestic nuclear weapons program.

Earlier this year, Yoon said the U.S. strategy of providing a “nuclear umbrella” or “extended deterrence” to South Korea is not reassuring enough to guarantee public safety now that North Korea has developed its own nuclear weapons.

Speaking at a joint press conference on April 26, Biden said the United States would deploy nuclear-capable systems to the Korean Peninsula but would not be stationing nuclear weapons.

U.S. President Joe Biden (R) and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol walk on the colonnade as they make their way to a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House, on April 26, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“We’re not going to be stationing nuclear weapons on the [Korean] Peninsula, but we will have port visits of nuclear submarines and things like that,” he said.

Under the “extended deterrence” doctrine, there will be increased port visits of U.S. Navy 7th Fleet “boomers”—large submarines that carry nuclear submarine-launched ballistic missiles—for the first time in four decades, U.S. Air Force rotational deployments of strategic bombers, combined operations between South Korean conventional forces and U.S. strategic units, and “presidential-level” consultations in a newly created nuclear consultative group.

Biden warned that any nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies is “unacceptable and will result in the end of whatever regime.”

North Korea conducted a series of missile launches this year, including one involving a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-18, all of which are banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea’s missile program.

John Haughey contributed to this report.

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