In a significant development, a US nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) made a historic visit to South Korea today, marking the first such visit since the 1980s. This visit comes as the two allies engage in talks to coordinate their responses in the event of a nuclear conflict with North Korea.
Kurt Campbell, White House Indo-Pacific coordinator, confirmed the highly anticipated visit during a media briefing in Seoul. The visit was announced in a joint declaration issued during a summit between South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and US President Joe Biden in Washington back in April. Campbell attended the first Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) discussion with South Korean officials, where he emphasized the importance of better coordination in the event of a war involving North Korea.
The establishment of the NCG aims to enhance allied cooperation and coordination for a cohesive nuclear response if a conflict with North Korea were to arise. The creation of this group was announced during the April summit, reflecting the growing calls within South Korea for the nation to have its own nuclear weapons.
North Korea, which conducted an intercontinental ballistic missile test last week, condemned the NCG’s discussions, particularly its open discourse on the use of nuclear weapons. The nation also expressed opposition to plans by the allies to increase displays of military force, including the visit of the nuclear-armed submarine.
As the region navigates the complex dynamics surrounding North Korea’s nuclear program, the US and South Korea are working together to strengthen their defense capabilities and coordination. These efforts aim to maintain stability and security while seeking diplomatic solutions to address the North Korean threat.