South Korea’s New President Wants Nuclear Weapons

April 7th, 2022 - by Dave DeCamp /

South Korea’s President-Elect Wants
US Nuclear Bombers, Submarines to Return

Dave DeCamp /

(April 6, 2022) — South Korea’s President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol asked for the US to return nuclear bombers and submarines to the Korean peninsula during talks in Washington on Wednesday, one of his advisors said, according to Reuters.

The US removed its strategic nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991. Yoon has vowed to take a firmer stance towards the North than outgoing President Moon Jae-in and is seeking the return of US nuclear weapons as part of that plan.

“Deploying the strategic assets is an important element of reinforcing the extended deterrence, and the issue naturally came up during the discussions,” said Park Jin, a South Korean lawmaker who led the delegation.

When asked if the US supported deploying nuclear weapons to the Korean peninsula, a White House official said US officials and the South Korean delegation had “discussed generally” Washington’s defense commitments, and did not elaborate further.

The delegation visit came after recent missile tests conducted by North Korea that the US responded to by imposing fresh sanctions. So far, the Biden administration has made no progress in its approach to Pyongyang. Biden officials say they want talks with the North but have maintained sanctions.

The US is also looking to South Korea to help counter China in the region. Yoon has signaled that he’s ready to get on board with the US campaign against China by accusing Moon of being “submissive” to both Beijing and Pyongyang.


The US Wants South Korea to
Help Take on the Chinese Military

Washington and Seoul are updating their war plans for North Korea, and the US wants to make countering China part of the new plans

Dave DeCamp /

(December 3, 2021) — The US and South Korea are preparing to update their plans for a potential war with North Korea to reflect what Washington says is an advance in Pyongyang’s military capabilities. But now that the US is so focused on China, the new war plans will also address countering the Chinese military in the region.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with his South Korean counterpart, Suh Wook, in Seoul on Thursday. In a joint statement, the two military leaders noted “the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” marking the first time Taiwan was mentioned in a joint release from the defense chiefs of the US and South Korea.

In May, President Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in also mentioned Taiwan together for the first time. This reflects how the US has shifted its position towards Taiwan. Washington no longer views the island as an issue between US-China relations and now views it as an opportunity to counter Beijing.

“We see [South Korea] now as a net provider of security not just on the peninsula but across the region,” an unnamed Pentagon official told Voice of America. The official said the US and South Korea will be “looking at ways where we can coordinate our defense cooperation in the region, and specifically capacity building throughout the region.”

The US’s desire for South Korea to become more involved militarily in the region fits in with Seoul’s plans to develop new weapons. Earlier this year, the US lifted restrictions on South Korea’s ability to develop and possess long-range missiles. 

Previously, South Korea could not develop missiles with a range greater than 800km (497 miles). Now, Seoul can develop any type of long-range ballistic missile, potentially putting China in range.

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