July 20, 2023 10:06
President Yoon Suk-yeol on Wednesday visited the first U.S. nuclear-armed submarine to dock in South Korea in over four decades.
The USS Kentucky docked at Busan Naval Base on Tuesday in time for the inaugural meeting of a new South Korea-U.S. nuclear consultative group in Seoul in a show of force against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.
It is the first U.S. nuclear missile submarine to arrive here since 1981 and Yoon became the first foreign head of state ever to board a U.S. nuclear-armed submarine.
He was welcomed onboard by crew in white uniforms at a podium set up at the dock. Armed U.S. troops stood guard on temporary container boxes installed for the security of the submarine. Twelve missile launch tubes on either side of the hull were clearly visible above the waterline.
The U.S. Forces Korea in a press release earlier said that the submarine's port visit to Busan "reflects the United States' ironclad commitment to [South Korea] for our extended deterrence guarantee."
"The USS Kentucky's deployment clearly shows the commitment of the United States to regularly deploy strategic assets and strengthen the credibility of extended deterrence," Yoon said in a speech, adding he felt reassured as he was visiting the Kentucky and thanked Biden for making its prompt dispatch possible.
He said the inaugural consultative meeting will ensure that North Korea "won't even dream of carrying out a nuclear provocation, and send a clear warning that if it does, it will mean the end of that regime."
Yoon was shown round the submarine accompanied by first lady Kim Keon-hee, national security adviser Cho Tae-yong, Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup, and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lee Jong-ho as well as U.S. National Security Council official Cara Abercrombie, Vipin Narang, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, Joy Sakurai, the chargé d'affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, and USFK Commander Paul LaCamera.
Each Ohio-class nuclear submarine is armed with nuclear warheads some 1,600 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
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