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: 관리자 : 2023년 6월 30일 (금), 오후 5:14

U.S. to send nuclear-armed submarine to S. Korea 'in near future': USFK general

By Chae Yun-hwan

SEOUL, June 29 (Yonhap) -- The United States will send a nuclear-armed submarine to South Korea "in the near future" for the first time in decades, in another show of the U.S. commitment to the defense of its ally, the deputy commander of the U.S. Forces Korea said Thursday.

Lt. Gen. Scott L. Pleus, who doubles as the commander of the U.S. Seventh Air Force, made the remarks at an annual forum hosted by Yonhap News Agency and the unification ministry in Seoul as the allies seek to bolster efforts to deter North Korea's evolving military threats.

"In the near future, you can expect another show of the U.S. commitment to extended deterrence by a port visit by the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine," he said, without specifying the timing of its visit.

The U.S. had pledged to send a nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine to South Korea in the Washington Declaration issued by President Yoon Suk Yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden during their summit in Washington in April to further enhance the "regular visibility" of strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula.

On June 16, the USS Michigan, a nuclear-powered guided missile submarine (SSGN), another major U.S. Navy asset, visited a key naval base in Busan, 320 kilometers southeast of Seoul, as part of efforts to follow through on its pledge.

"This class of SSGN serves two objectives: deterrence and reassurance," he said. "The Michigan's visit is intended to reassure the Korean people they remain protected by the full spectrum of the United States' capabilities."

Lt. Gen. Scott L. Pleus, deputy commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, speaks during a peace forum hosted by Yonhap News Agency and the unification ministry at a hotel in central Seoul on June 29, 2023. (Yonhap)

Lt. Gen. Scott L. Pleus, deputy commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, speaks during a peace forum hosted by Yonhap News Agency and the unification ministry at a hotel in central Seoul on June 29, 2023. (Yonhap)

Pleus also said the alliance remains as "important as ever" in the face of ongoing military threats posed by Pyongyang, calling its "unprecedented" number of missile launches in the past two years as "nothing but provocation."

"U.S. Forces Korea will maintain our commitment to the alliance, which has endured since the Korean War, and we will never take that for granted," he said.

Seoul and Washington signed their mutual defense treaty, a bedrock alliance document, in October 1953, after the Korean War ended in a truce three months earlier.

Pleus also highlighted the need for the alliance to build "greater strategic depth" as the allies seeks to evolve their ties into a "global comprehensive strategic" partnership.

"As our alliance continues to expand, we will keep building upon our commitments not only to the security of Northeast Asia, but also to a free and open Indo Pacific and a free and open global commons," he said.

"That being said, this may require the alliance to build greater strategic depth, enhance international cooperation and provide greater support to the rules-based international order that has brought us so much prosperity to the U.S. and Republic of Korea," he said, using South Korea's official name.

The remarks come as the allies have been stepping up security coordination as Washington seeks to maintain what it calls the "rules-based order" amid China's growing assertiveness and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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