May 23, 2022 09:43
President Yoon Suk-yeol and his visiting U.S. counterpart Joe Biden agreed on Saturday to use all defense capabilities including nuclear weapons to defend South Korea against a nuclear attack from North Korea.
"In order to prepare against a possible nuclear attack, our two countries' combined military exercises, I believe, should be stepped up in many aspects." Yoon told reporters. "We had that discussion."
According to the two presidents' joint statement, Biden "affirms the U.S. extended deterrence commitment to [South Korea] using the full range of U.S. defense capabilities, including nuclear, conventional, and missile defense capabilities."
It was the first time in some years that the two countries have so openly threatened to use nuclear arms in case of an attack from the North. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month threatened unspecified enemies with pre-emptive nuclear strikes.
The two leaders also decided to reactivate a strategic consultation group as soon as possible and "initiate discussions to expand the scope and scale of combined military exercises and training on and around the Korean Peninsula."
Yoon took the opportunity to announce that South Korea is joining the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). Proposed by Biden last October, IPEF aims to establish an economic alliance in the Asia-Pacific region to reduce their supply-chain dependence on China.
The two leaders agreed to "develop a comprehensive IPEF that will deepen economic engagement on priority issues, including the digital economy, resilient supply chains, clean energy and other priorities geared toward promoting sustainable economic growth."
South Korean businesses are investing a combined W54 trillion in the U.S. in the areas of semiconductors, EVs and batteries (US$1=W1,268). Samsung announced late last year that it will invest $17 billion in a factory in the U.S.
Such investments could give Biden's Democratic Party an advantage in the U.S. mid-term elections in November.
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