Biden, Yoon warn N. Korea on nukes, unveil deterrence plan

President Joe Biden and South Korea's Yoon Suk Yeol unveiled a new plan Wednesday to counter North Korea's nuclear threat, with the U.S. leader issuing a blunt warning that such an attack would 'result in the end of whatever regime' took such action. The new nuclear deterrence effort calls for periodically docking U.S. nuclear-armed submarines in South Korea for the first time in decades, bolstering training between the two countries, and more. The declaration was unveiled as Biden hosted Yoon for a state visit at a moment of heightened anxiety over an increased pace of ballistic missile tests by North Korea. 'A nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies and partners is unacceptable, and will result in the end of whatever regime were to take such an action,' Biden said during afternoon Rose Garden news conference with Yoon. Yoon said that the new commitment by the 'righteous alliance' includes plans for bilateral presidential consultations in the event of a North Korean nuclear attack, the establishment of a nuclear consultative group and improved sharing of information on nuclear and strategic weapons operation plans. 'Sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula does not happen automatically,' Yoon said. He added, 'Our two countries have agreed to immediate bilateral presidential consultations in the event of North Korea's nuclear attack and promised to respond swiftly, overwhelmingly and decisively using the full force of the alliance, including the United States' nuclear weapons.' Biden and Yoon aides have been working on details of the plan for months and agreed that 'occasional' and 'very clear demonstrations of the strength' of U.S. extended deterrence capabilities needed to be an essential aspect of the agreement, according to three senior Biden administration officials who briefed reporters ahead of the announcement. The officials said the so-called Washington Declaration was designed to allay South Korean fears over the North's aggressive nuclear weapons program and to keep the country from restarting its own nuclear program, which it gave up nearly 50 years ago when it signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Yoon earlier this year said his country was weighing developing its own nuclear weapons or asking the U.S. to redeploy them on the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. and South Korea also would coordinate more deeply on nuclear response strategy in the event of the North attacking the South - but operational control of such weapons would remain in U.S. control, and no nuclear weapons are being deployed onto South Korean shores. 'We are not going to be stationing nuclear weapons on the peninsula,' Biden underscored. Biden said coordination between the U.S. and South Korea remains crucial in the face of increased North Korean threats and blatant violation of international sanctions. The president repeated that the U.S. remains open to 'substantial' talks with the North without preconditions. Rob Soofer, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said the new declaration includes important steps but may not fully address the 'underlying dilemma that provokes South Korean angst over the U.S. nuclear umbrella.' 'Having the nuclear capabilities to strike North Korea is only part of the deterrence equation - the U.S. must also convince the adversary that it has the will to use these weapons in the face of nuclear retaliation,' Soofer said. The state visit comes as the U.S. and South Korea mark the 70th year of the countries' alliance that began at the end of the Korean War and committed the United States to help South Korea defend itself, particularly from North Korea. Approximately 28,500 U.S. troops are currently based in South Korea. 'Why did they sacrifice their lives for this faraway country and for the people that you've never met?' Yoon said of the U.S. troops who served during the war. 'That was for one noble cause: to defend freedom.' The agreement also calls for the U.S. and South Korean militaries to strengthen joint training and better integrate South Korean military assets into the joint strategic deterrence effort. As part of the declaration, South Korea will reaffirm its commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, an agreement signed by several major nuclear and non-nuclear powers that pledged their cooperation to stem the spread of nuclear technology, the officials said.

Source: Azerbaijan State News Agency