US Nuclear-Armed Sub Goes To South Korea

US Nuclear-Armed Sub Goes To South Korea

( – North Korea has been acting increasingly threatening over the past few years, despite diplomatic attempts to rein the country in. Its actions have prompted the United States and South Korea to strengthen ties to provide a united front against the threat, involving a rare visit.

On Tuesday, July 18, the US sent one of its nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), the USS Kentucky, to South Korea. The vessel made port in the country’s second-largest city, Busan, on the southeast tip of the Korean Peninsula. The port call marks the first time in four decades a nuclear submarine visited the East Asian country. However, it wasn’t a surprise. In April, Presidents Joe Biden and Yoon Suk Yeol announced the move.

The first meeting of the Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG), a collaboration between the two nations, coincided with the submarine’s arrival. Earlier in July, officials from South Korea said they planned to base the inaugural meeting on “information sharing, […] and joint planning and execution designed to bolster nuclear deterrence against North Korea,” as reported by Reuters. Kurt Campbell, the US National Security Council Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs, and Kim Tae-hyo, the Principal Deputy National Security Adviser for South Korea, co-chaired the gathering.

A White House readout noted that the two sides “established a range of workstreams to bolster nuclear deterrence and response capabilities,” including establishing information-sharing protocols. Of course, the meeting didn’t go unnoticed. Both North Korea and China took a keen interest, and the latter expressed concern.

South Korea has called for access to nuclear weapons for some time to defend its nation, but Washington disagrees. Instead, the US has committed to deploying strategic assets, including submarines, long-range bombers, and aircraft carriers, to deter North Korea’s continuing aggressions. Campbell called the nuclear sub’s visit a tangible demonstration of the US commitment to its alliance with South Korea.

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