US nuclear submarines to dock in S Korea in rare visit amid tension with North

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 27 April 2023 9:21 AM

The US military is set to deploy nuclear-armed submarines to South Korea in a purported move to show its resolve to protect Seoul against the North Korea.

The US will send an Ohio-class US Navy nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) to South Korea as part of a so-called Washington Declaration — unveiled Wednesday at the White House during a summit meeting between US President Joe Biden and visiting South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk Yeol — to reassure Seoul and quell talk there of developing homegrown nuclear weapons.

“Look, a nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies … or partners is unacceptable and will result in the end of whatever regime to take such an action,” Biden threatened during a joint press conference with Yoon.

The US Navy fields 14 SSBNs, often referred to as “boomers.” Each of the Ohio-class submarines carry a maximum of 20 Trident II D5 missiles, each of which can deliver up to eight nuclear warheads to targets as far as 12,000 kilometers away, meaning that they are capable of hitting a target in North Korea from vast swathes of the Pacific, Indian or Arctic oceans.

The last time the US sent ballistic missile submarines to South Korea was in 1981.

The news of the deployment came as North Korea says it will continue its development and test-launch of missiles and nuclear weapons as a defensive measure against persisting joint war games held near its waters by US and South Korean armed forces, which Pyongyang regards as rehearsals to invade its territory

Under the joint declaration, which is the product of months of discussions between US and Korean officials, Washington has pledged to send more so-called “strategic assets” such as aircraft carriers, submarines, and long-range bombers to the South “to deter” North Korea.

Prior to the joint press conference by Biden and Moon on Wednesday, the Associated Press cited three unnamed senior officials in the Biden administration as making clear that such assets would not be stationed permanently, and there is “no plan” to deploy any tactical nuclear weapons to the Korean peninsula.

The agreement outlines stepped-up deterrence commitments the US is making to South Korea, and hence, can be seen as Washington’s firm pledge to Seoul to give it a greater role in any response to a potential nuclear attack, the officials added.

Over 28,500 American troops are based in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-1953 Korean War, which concluded in an armistice rather than a peace treaty, meaning that the two neighbors are still technically at war.

North Korea, which has been under harsh sanctions by the United States and the United Nations Security Council for years over its defensive nuclear and ballistic missiles programs, has test-fired numerous missiles in 2022, including its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile ever.

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