US-S. Korea New Deterrence ‘Codifies Decades of Rhetoric’ Using ‘DPRK Threat’

US President Joe Biden (L) and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol speak onstage during a State Dinner at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 26, 2023. InternationalIndiaAfricaThe outcome of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s visit to the US proves yet again that the Republic of Korea remains under Washington’s “24-hour watch” and is never allowed to carry out its own independent foreign affairs, Dr Kiyul Chung tells Sputnik. None of the actions proposed by the US and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the unveiled extended deterrence agreement, the so-called Washington Declaration – the most important outcome of the South Korean President’s visit to the United States – are particularly new, Michael Madden, non-resident Fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington DC, has told Sputnik.The Washington Declaration could be seen as “codifying certain actions or forms of strategic rhetoric” permeating US-ROK decision-making over the past few dozen years, Madden said.Some tough-sounding statements came out of Washington on Wednesday, as Joe Biden and Yoon Suk-yeol touted the “new” plan aimed at boosting US-South Korean cooperation on aspects such as military training, information sharing “with respect to the threat posed by the DPRK [North Korea].” The 46th POTUS warned that: “A nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies and partners is unacceptable, and will result in the end of whatever regime were to take such an action.”The plan presupposes:Setting up a “Nuclear Consultative Group”;Regular deployment of a US nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) to South Korea; and More information sharing.But, as Biden stated: “We are not going to be stationing nuclear weapons on the peninsula.”The pretext for reinforcing the US-ROK alliance used by the Biden Administration has been North Korea’s (DPRK) steady schedule of missile simulations and test firings, Madden said.

“The US and ROK, through the Washington Declaration and the interactions between Presidents Biden and Yoon… are using all available options to respond to North Korean weapon of mass destruction (WMD) activity, short of military action,” said Madden, a leading contributing analyst to the 38 North website and director and founder of NK Leadership Watch.

If one examines one of the proposed “new” measures, such as the docking of nuclear submarines in South Korea, the US last brought nuclear subs into the ROK during the Nineties. Madden succinctly sums it up:”Think of it like a buffet; rather than picking and choosing certain dishes, the US and South Korea are putting most of the options on the plate.”WorldS. Korea-US Talks Seeking to Reaffirm ‘Ironclad’ Ties Amid Fallout From Pentagon Leaks26 April, 05:57 GMTThe issue of the “North Korea threat” is a “never-dying rationale, like a revolving-door or a lifelong battery, which is constantly remanufactured as a convenient justification for the US to stay in South Korea forever,” Dr Kiyul Chung, editor-in-chief at the 4th Media, told Sputnik.The retired professor of Tsinghua University in Beijing agreed that there was, indeed, nothing new about the unveiled so-called “new nuclear deterrence efforts”, including US nuclear submarines in the ROK, mutual training and deepening coordination between military forces.

“The entire South Korean land, sea, sky, and both its human and natural resources have been unilaterally occupied… often permanently damaged by 'radioactive trashes' left or thrown out from a number of US military bases throughout SK territory,” Chung said.

South Korea has been under Washington’s “24-hour watch” or “complete control” for almost 80 years now, never allowed to carry out its own independent foreign affairs or socioeconomic development, he said. President Yoon, according to the retired professor, was no more than “Washington’s vassal” for today, as his “shameful and undignified visit to Washington” further proved.AsiaUS, Japan & South Korea Discuss Regularizing Military Drills to Counter Pyongyang15 April, 02:13 GMT

China, DPRK Response

The fall-out from the so-called Washington Declaration, with its certain types of deployments and military exercises by the two allies could, over the next year, easily irritate China, added Madden. The extended deterrence agreement, “will enhance China’s current posture and viewpoint on Korea,” he said.

“China will continue to try to improve its relationship with the DPRK and expand bilateral ties and will continue to convey that joint US-ROK military activity bolsters Pyongyang's justifications for developing nuclear weapons and expanding its ballistic missile holdings.”

Chung doubted whether there would be, “anything impactful regarding DPRK’s reaction to Washington’s another ‘April Fools’ Day’ show which is basically and fundamentally the same as the past 70 years of US global military show businesses.”The Ukraine issue was “mentioned very briefly” during the talks between Biden and the visiting South Korean President, a senior Washington official was cited as saying. But it should be borne in mind that the visit came amid the fall-out from the recent alleged Pentagon Leaks. The classified US military documents showed how South Korea was struggling to balance pressure from its Western allies to help Ukraine get military aid with its own policy of staying out of the conflict.

"South Korea is trying to maintain its status as a top alliance partner to the US while not completely closing its diplomatic door to Russia. It is certainly a stressful landscape for Yoon's advisers and top ROK decision-makers, but the overall public record finds the ROK staking out a more moderate posture," said Madden.

Whether it is “supplying munitions to Ukraine”, or issues such as “getting along with Japan, antagonizing China on the issue of Taiwan, etc, the current leadership of South Korea will find it very challenging to resist US pressure,” Chung said. He reiterated that in his opinion, South Korea will find it hard to say “No!” to Washington’s pressure, as the US continues in its “desperate, but repeatedly failing attempts to prevent the DPRK, China, Russia, India, Iran – and now, even, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the like – from getting closer and united against the unipolar power’s so-called unilaterally imposed rules-based international order”.AnalysisExperts: Xi-Putin Talks on Expanded Economic Cooperation Part of ‘Multipolarity Building Process’21 March, 19:57 GMT


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