President Joe Biden met with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol at the White House on Wednesday, announcing that he would have nuclear-armed submarines dock in South Korea for the first time in more than 40 years. According to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Yoon’s visit comes “at a critical moment as North Korea continues to develop its nuclear and missile capabilities.”
Biden and Yoon spoke in the Rose Garden, where Biden pledged to uphold the country’s nuclear defense treaty with South Korea in the face of threats from North Korea. Said Biden: “Our nuclear defense treaty is ironclad. They are particularly important in the face of DPRK’s increased threats and blatant violations of U.S. sanctions. At the same time we are continuing to seek diplomatic breakthroughs with the DPRK.”
Yoon arrived in Washington on Monday along with South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee for the six-day visit, which also included a state dinner Wednesday night at the White House, and a Thursday address before Congress, where he will speak on the continued threat posed by North Korea. North Korean President Kim Jung Un has ordered nuclear rocket tests at an unprecedented pace over the past year and recently launched the country’s first solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, which analysts say could severely challenge missile-defense systems.
In recent months, Yoon’s administration has sought greater input from the U.S. while anticipating the need for a strong nuclear response to North Korea. Yoon’s visit was timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the South Korea-U.S. alliance that emerged in the wake of the 1950-53 Korean War.
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