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Yoon-Biden summit sparks wide concern

Updated: 2023-05-01 06:53

US President Joe Biden reacts as South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol sings at an official State Dinner, during Yoon Suk Yeol's visit, at the White House in Washington, US April 26, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

ROK foreign policy criticized as nuclear declaration undermines regional peace

SEOUL — The Republic of Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol wrapped up his weeklong visit to the United States on Sunday, with outcomes including for the US to dock nuclear submarines in the Korean Peninsula for the first time in 40 years, a move seen by observers as stirring uncertainty to regional peace.

Apart from nuclear deployment, Yoon and US President Joe Biden talked about issues such as cybersecurity, climate mitigation, and economic investment.

Lee Jae-myung, chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party, criticized Yoon's foreign policy toward the United States as humiliating, speaking of Wednesday's meeting between Yoon and Biden.

"With regard to the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act that were the core agenda, (Yoon) has not protected our industry and companies at all," Lee said at a party meeting on Friday.

Lee said Yoon's performance at the meeting ended up in a humiliating situation of generously spreading "global hogang" diplomacy. Hogang, a buzzword in Korean, refers to a customer who is easy to deceive.

Following the two leaders' meeting, the US and the ROK jointly issued the Washington Declaration on April 26 as one of the outcomes of Yoon's visit to the US.

According to reports, the declaration said the US will upgrade the extended deterrence it provides to the ROK, including enhanced consultation over a nuclear crisis, increased military exercises and training activities, tabletop simulation, the establishment of a new Nuclear Consultative Group, and further expansion of the US' regular visibility of strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula.

Kim Yo-jong, vice-department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, denounced the declaration as "a typical product of their extreme anti-DPRK hostile policy reflecting the most hostile and aggressive will of action" and said "it will only result in making peace and security of Northeast Asia and the world be exposed to more serious danger", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.

"The more the enemies are dead set on staging nuclear war exercises, and the more nuclear assets they deploy in the vicinity of the Korean Peninsula, the stronger the exercise of our right to self-defense will become in direct proportion to them," KCNA said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday said the nuclear agreement reached by the US and the ROK will have a negative effect on regional security and undermine global stability.

"We took note of reports on an agreement that was reached between the United States and the ROK on joint planning with regard to the use of nuclear weapons," the ministry's spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, said in a statement. "This development is clearly destabilizing … and will have serious negative consequences for regional security and will impact global stability."

By committing to policies of "extended nuclear deterrence", the US and its allies are duplicating schemes that Washington has been practicing for decades following the Cold War, and still practices with its NATO allies, the statement said.

'New Cold War'

It added that such practices will ultimately undermine international security, lead to further escalation of tensions, spur security crises and provoke an arms race.

The joint statement released after the Yoon-Biden talks has caused concern and criticism in the ROK, with public opinion saying that the Yoon government is leading the country to "the center of a new Cold War".

On Thursday, the ROK's national youth committee and the national university student committee of the party held a rally in front of the National Assembly Proceeding Hall to condemn the government's diplomatic policy for escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

"The worry is that (ROK) is rushing into a situation where (the country) has to depend on the United States for everything," the Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper said in an editorial on Thursday.

The editorial warned that the ROK was losing its diplomatic and security autonomy as it would be more difficult for Seoul to reject any demand from Washington.


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