Seoul, Jul 19 (EFE).- South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol boarded the USS Kentucky, a US nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, at the port of Busan on Wednesday, in a warning to neighboring North Korea’s nuclear threats.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (R) shakes hands with Naval Operations Commander V. Adm. Kim Myung-soo (C) during a visit to the command in Busan, southeast of Seoul, South Korea, 19 July 2023. EFE/EPA/KOREA POOL SOUTH KOREA OUT
“The USS Kentucky’s deployment shows clearly the commitment of South Korea and the United States to regularly deploy U.S. strategic assets and strengthen the credibility of extended deterrence,” Yoon said as he boarded the SSBN submersible, according to Yonhap news agency.
“The two countries will overwhelmingly and resolutely respond to North Korea’s advancing nuclear and missile threats through the Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) and regular deployments of strategic assets, such as the SSBN,” the South Korean president added.
Yoon echoed warnings the US and South Korea have issued in recent months that if Pyongyang carries out any provocations, the allies’ response “will lead to the end of that regime.”
Yoon’s remarks came a day after the submarine arrived in Busan (350 kilometers southeast of the capital Seoul) and the NCG held its inaugural meeting to discuss nuclear and strategic planning between South Korea and the US.
In a declaration penned in April by Yoon and US President Joe Biden, Washington pledged its “commitment to provide extended deterrence to (South Korea) backed by the full range of US capabilities, including nuclear.”
The US also said it would provide the “regular visibility of strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula, as evidenced by the upcoming visit of a US nuclear ballistic missile submarine.”
The NCG mechanism aims to act as a combined deterrence and response posture to counter North Korea’s aggressive rhetoric and nuclear threats, seeking to discourage Pyongyang from developing weapons of mass destruction.
North Korea last week warned that the arrival of the submarine would raise regional tensions, and on Wednesday launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan in response to the launch of the NGG.
The North Korean regime also test-fired for the second time a Hwasong-18, its most sophisticated intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) ahead of the NGG meeting.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been high after the failed denuclearization negotiations in 2019.
Pyongyang has since rejected offers of dialogue and conducted a record number of ballistic missile tests.
Seoul has responded by increasing its joint military drills with the US and deployment of American strategic assets in the region. EFE