South Korea’s Yoon says nuclear group upgrades U.S. alliance

  • South Korea has upgraded its U.S. alliance, President Yoon Suk Yeol said on 2 May, as he briefed his cabinet on a trip to the United States which pledged more South Korean insight into nuclear planning in the event of war with North Korea.
  • Calls have been growing in South Korea, even among some senior members of Yoon’s party, for it to develop its own nuclear weapons. The U.S. opposes that, assuring South Korea of protection under the U.S. “nuclear umbrella”.
  • “The alliance has a nuclear-based upgrade and has expanded to include supply chain, industrial and science and technology alliances,” Yoon told his cabinet.
  • Yoon and Biden agreed in a “Washington Declaration” to launch a Nuclear Consultative Group to give South Korea more insight into, and a voice in, U.S. contingency planning to deter and respond to any nuclear incident in the region.
  • They also agreed on new partnerships on supply chains and science and technology, including cyber security, electric vehicles and batteries, quantum technology, foreign assistance and economic investment. Yoon said the nuclear planning mechanism would be more effective than NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group by facilitating more frequent high-level bilateral discussions.
  • More U.S. “strategic assets” would be regularly deployed to South Korea to maintain an “overwhelming retaliatory posture”, he said.
  • Yoon’s approval ratings slightly rose to 34.5%, a poll released on 1 May by Realmeter showed, marking their first rebound in four weeks.

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