America must act with restraint in North and South Korea relations

Will South Korea be able to defend itself or has to keep looking towards the US?

America must act with restraint and not embroil itself in the duel of words between South and North Korea, because US involvement will necessarily have wider international ramifications.

Recently North Korea’s Kim Yo Jong’s (sister of North Korean President  Kim Jong-un) statements which came as a result of US’s new agreement with South Korea, must be seen only as that – a natural reaction to the further closeness in alignment of US and South Korea.

The partnership between South Korea and the US goes back for decades with South Korea being able to face the highly belligerent north only because it has US backing.

MS Education Academy

She has said that the recent Washington Agreement reflects “the most hostile and aggressive will of action” against North Korea exposing the world to serious danger.

South Korean President Yoon and US President Joe Biden have in the Washington agreement agreed to strengthen Washington’s nuclear commitment to South Korea and take “swift, overwhelming, and decisive” action in the event of North Korea’s nuclear attack.

They have decided to establish a Nuclear Consultative Group and more frequent deployments of U.S. strategic assets to South Korea.

Not taking this lying down North Korea has pointed out that staging of nuclear war exercises in Korean waters will lead to “stronger exercise of our right to self-defense” in “direct proportion to them.”

The US President Biden’s threat to finish the North Korean regime if it indulged in any nuclear misadventure was phoo-phooed by her saying that it is “too miscalculating and irresponsibly brave.”

This was on expected lines and nothing much should be read in it.

The deployment of deterrent nuclear assets and nuclear exercises by South Korea-Washington would only firm up the resolve of  north Korea to further build up its self defence. But then there was virtually no way out for US to make south Korea confident that it will “walk the talk”.

Since the beginning of 2022, North Korea has test-fired around 100 missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles to demonstrate its military capability.

Now South Korea too has the wherewithal to have its own nuclear weapons within a year if it is pushed in that direction.

However,  its commitment to Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty has restrained any such plans. The US obviously wants the South to remain firm in this resolve because in the present geo-political scenario in the Korean peninsula nuclear race could lead to nuclear conflagration.

The hawks in South Korea clearly want South Korea to have its own nuclear arsenal to defend itself and not be dependent on any other country including the US, particularly in view of North Korean threats.

South Korean President Yoon has very significantly said recently, “However, nuclear weapons are not just a matter of technology. There are complex politics and economics and political and economic equations related to nuclear weapons.”

He said, “There are various values and interests that must be given up when possessing nuclear weapons.”

Under the Washington Declaration, South Korea and the US will launch a nuclear consultation group as a new mechanism to focus on nuclear and strategic planning issues. It would facilitate “systematic operations” of information sharing and the movements of strategic assets of the two countries.

To re assure South Korea US also promises to dispatch a nuclear ballistic missile submarine to  South Korea, clearly to deter any mis adventure by North Korea.

 But then it could be risky as it would further alienate north Korea.

There is actually no point in  it apart from physically being present in Korean waters because a missile hit could be done  even  from far away. Secondly, US has to see to it that presence of such a sophisticated submarine does not make Beijing nervous.Already US has been briefing China to reassure it regarding its plans in Korean waters.

What also must have weighed on US before making the agreement is that South Korea should not  be forced into a position where it would ditch NPT,in view of north Korea’s threatening gestures.

The present agreement  is supposed to emphasize South Korea’s commitment to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

Now it is clearly South Korea’s sovereign choice and till now it had abided by  NPT. It could as well decide not to. It would all depend on how it perceives its national  security concerns.

Will South Korea be able to defend itself or has to keep looking towards the US?

If US gives South Korea security cover,  economically South Korean companies who have set up many companies in US  and create many  jobs in the US, help US economy particularly in upcoming areas of semiconductors and electric vehicle batteries.

Basically, the Washington Declaration between Jo Biden and Korean President is an agreement where America promises to protect Korean Peninsula from Nuclear attack by north Korea.

The declaration marks the 70 the anniversary of US-South Korea alliance.

The US says that the Alliance has expanded into a truly global Alliance that champions democratic principles, enriches economic cooperation, and drives technological advancements.

In the Agreement, the Alliance commits to engage in deeper, cooperative decision-making on nuclear deterrence, including through enhanced dialogue and information sharing regarding growing nuclear threats to the ROK and the region.

It announced the establishment of a new Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) to strengthen extended deterrence, discuss nuclear and strategic planning, and manage the threat to the non-proliferation regime posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

In addition, the Alliance will work to enable joint execution and planning for ROK conventional support to U.S. nuclear operations in a contingency and improve combined exercises and training activities on the application of nuclear deterrence on the Korean Peninsula.

The Alliance has established a new bilateral, interagency table-top simulation to strengthen a joint approach to planning for nuclear contingencies.

Reaffirming US’s commitment President Biden has said, in no uncertain terms, “ any nuclear attack by the DPRK against the ROK will be met with a swift, overwhelming and decisive response.” 

It has now been decided that U.S. strategic assets will be deployed around the Korean Peninsula and a joint Nuclear Consultative Group will share tactical information, engage in joint training, and coordinate military responses to any potentially hostile actions by North Korea.

While Washington will remain the sole authority deciding on whether or not to carry out a nuclear response in any such eventuality, the Biden administration will step up its contribution to symbolic deterrence against the North by sending, for the first time in 40 years, nuclear-armed submarines to the region, though they are unlikely to be a permanent deployment.

 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons stationed in South Korea were withdrawn from the region in 1991.

Back to top button