NUCLEAR SUBS FOR SOUTH KOREA
South Korea announced this week that President Moon Jae-in and President Trump will launch working-level talks on Seoul acquiring nuclear-powered submarines.
The disclosure that Seoul could buy or lease cruise missile-firing nuclear submarines would greatly enhance the U.S.-South Korean alliance by providing the South Korean military with a non-nuclear long-range strike capability as a deterrent to North Korea.
The Associated Press reported that the presidential office announced the agreement for submarine talks as part of efforts by the United States to bolster the country’s defenses. South Korea also could purchase reconnaissance aircraft and other advanced weaponry.
Mr. Moon has been a supporter of seeking American assistance in developing a nuclear submarine capability since the government first studied but rejected building nuclear-powered subs in the early 2000s.
Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said providing nuclear submarines to South Korea would send a powerful message to China to curb its covert backing for North Korea’s nuclear missile programs.
The Trump administration recently sanctioned a Chinese missile manufacturer for transferring six trucks that were used as mobile missile launchers by Pyongyang.
“Helping South Korea acquire nuclear submarines is a stunning contrast to the passivity of the Obama administration and starts a real change in Washington’s willingness to help its Asian allies obtain effective strategic capabilities that will be sorely needed to deter Chinese military threats in the coming decades,” Mr. Fisher said.
Nuclear submarines represent a strategic capability short of nuclear weapons, and the United States should offer the same assistance to Japan and Australia.
“China should also be warned: A refusal to reverse its assistance to North Korea’s nuclear missile program and to reverse China’s own military threats could leave the U.S. will little choice but to aid its allies who desire an independent nuclear deterrent,” Mr. Fisher said.
China likely will oppose the submarine assistance as the first step in the United States helping to arm