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ConflictsSouth Korea

South Korea, US discussing joint nuclear exercises

January 2, 2023

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said his country and the US are considering joint planning and exercises using US nuclear assets. This comes against the backdrop of an increased threat from North Korea.

US and South Korean soldiers work on a combined military exercise in 2022.
Tensions between the two Koreas have been increasing.Image: South Korean Defense Ministry/ZUMA Press Wire/picture alliance

Seoul and Washington are discussing joint planning and exercises using US nuclear assets, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said. 

"The nuclear weapons belong to the United States, but planning, information sharing, exercises and training should be jointly conducted by South Korea and the United States," he told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper in an interview published Monday. He also said the US was "quite positive" about the idea.

Yoon said the planning and exercises would be aimed at a more effective implementation of the US "extended deterrence." This refers to the ability of the US military to deter attacks on its allies.

North Korean threat

Yoon's statements come in light of an increased threat from North Korea. He also said maintaining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was still important. Tensions between the two nations have increased since Yoon came to power.

A day ago, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for developing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), saying he wished to increase the country's nuclear arsenal to counter the tensions with South Korea and the US. 

At a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party last week, Kim rolled out new military goals. He said South Korea has now become the North's "undoubted enemy."

On Sunday, North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile off its east coast. A day prior to this, they had launched three ballistic missiles.

North Korea ignored sanctions and conducted weapons tests nearly every month in 2022. 

South Korea has also increased joint military drills with the United States, after a slowdown during the coronavirus pandemic.

After peace talks between the two Koreas collapsed in 2019, Kim increased weapons tests. Seoul and Washington believe Pyongyang is preparing for its seventh nuclear test.

tg/fb  (AFP, Reuters)