President Joe Biden stated the US is not contemplating joint nuclear drills with South Korea, contradicting South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who said Washington and Seoul were in negotiations on such exercises.
President Yoon’s remarks, posted in an interview with the Chosun Ilbo news publication on Monday, come at a time of escalating tension with North Korea.
North Korea initiated an unusually high number of ballistic missiles in 2022 and has vowed to vigorously counter what it perceives to be US and South Korean military preparations for a possible invasion.
NEW: Biden says the US is *not* discussing holding joint nuclear exercises with South Korea, per White House radio pool.
— William Gallo (@GalloVOA) January 2, 2023
Reason and Explanations
In reaction to North Korea’s saber-rattling, Yoon has taken an increasingly aggressive attitude and called for “overwhelming” war preparations.
Yoon added the combined planning and drills would be geared toward a more successful execution of US “extended deterrence,” which alludes to the US military’s capacity to prevent assaults on US allies, notably with its nuclear assets.
Yoon said Seoul wants to participate in US nuclear operations to counter North Korea’s nuclear threats.
Yoon stated nuclear weapons belong to the US, but planning, intelligence gathering, exercises, and training should be collaborative.
Kim Eun-Hye, Yoon’s press secretary, said Biden had to reply no when pressed with a straight question on a sensitive topic.
As per Yonhap, Kim stated in a statement, “When the Reuters journalist questioned him point blank if joint nuclear drills were being considered, President Biden clearly had to respond, ‘No.'”
Despite Biden's comment, South Korea's presidential office continues to insist the US and South Korea are in talks on giving South Korea a bigger role in the operation of US nuclear forces.
Statement just now by Kim Eun-hye, senior presidential secretary for press affairs: pic.twitter.com/PcJ8UapAEw
— William Gallo (@GalloVOA) January 3, 2023
She said the United States and South Korea are discussing how to respond to North Korea’s nuclear weapons by exchanging intelligence, jointly planning, and subsequently implementing those plans.
There seems to be considerable consternation over the seemingly conflicting statements coming out of Seoul and Washington.
A top Biden admin spokesperson told Reuters nuclear drills with South Korea aren’t planned because Seoul isn’t a nuclear state.
The individual told Reuters the United States and South Korea were considering enhancing intelligence sharing, extending contingency planning, and possibly conducting tabletop exercises.
Thomas Countryman, the erstwhile acting undersecretary of state for nuclear disarmament who presided over the dialogue’s first meeting, declared the United States had a strategic framework with Japan to discuss nuclear issues for a long time.
In 2016, the United States initiated a similar dialogue with South Korea. Countryman said it’s not apparent what in President Yoon’s message is new and what is a reframing of existing events.
Countryman claimed Yoon’s words responded to North Korea’s provocations and bluster. He said President Yoon and the Biden administration are trying to reassure South Korea’s people and government of US dedication.
Kim Jong Un claimed South Korea was an “undoubted adversary” last week at a Workers’ Party gathering in North Korea, hinting at yet another year of nuclear testing and confrontation.
Since Yoon assumed office in May and promised a harsher stance on North Korea, inter-Korean relations have worsened.
North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile off its eastern seaboard on New Year after launching three ballistic missiles on Saturday.This article appeared in NewsHouse and has been published here with permission.