The United States and South Korea have outlined new steps aimed at bolstering the longstanding U.S.-South Korean defense alliance in the face of growing nuclear threats posed by North Korea.
Under the newly unveiled “Washington Declaration,” the two countries have committed to engaging in deeper dialogue and information sharing efforts and announced the establishment of a nuclear consultative group to strengthen nuclear deterrence efforts on the Korean Peninsula.
The U.S. will also enhance the visibility of its strategic assets in the region under the joint declaration, to include an upcoming visit of a nuclear-armed ballistic submarine to South Korea.
The new measures were unveiled during a joint news conference at the White House following bilateral talks between U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. Yoon’s official state visit to Washington marks the 70th anniversary of the U.S.-South Korean alliance.
Biden called the declaration a “prudent step” toward deterrence and in response to North Korea’s advancing nuclear threat.
“A nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies or partners is not acceptable and will result in the end of whatever regime that would take such an action,” Biden warned. “The bottom line is that there is even closer cooperation, closer consultation,” between the U.S. and Korea, he added.
Biden said that while the declaration marks a commitment to strengthening the longstanding U.S.-South Korean defense relationship, the two countries also seek “serious and substantial diplomatic breakthroughs” with North Korea to bolster stability on the Korean Peninsula.
The U.S. has maintained a robust presence in South Korea since the Korean War of 1950 – 1953. More than 28,000 U.S. service members serve on the peninsula alongside South Korean allies.
“The Alliance between our two nations has been forged in shared sacrifice, fortified by enduring security cooperation and nourished by our close kinship that has enabled both countries to leverage their diplomatic resources to peaceably achieve crucial, strategic outcomes,” the two presidents’ declaration reads.
“What began as a security partnership has grown and expanded into a truly global Alliance that champions democratic principles, enriches economic cooperation and drives technological advancements,” the declaration continues. “Our Alliance has been tested many times, and in every instance we have risen to the occasion and responded to the changing threats on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific.”