US nuclear-armed submarine arrives in South Korea

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A US submarine equipped with nuclear ballistic missiles arrived today at the South Korean port of Busan as a reflection of Washington's commitment to strengthen its deterrent mechanism against North Korea, as confirmed by the South Korean Ministry of National Defense.

"According to what we are talking about, a nuclear submarine is arriving at the port today in Busan," said Tuesday the coordinator for the Indo-Pacific of the US National Security Council, kurt campbellin a press conference held at the end of the first meeting of the so-called Nuclear Consultation Group (NCG).

Shortly after, the Ministry of Defense of the Asian country confirmed in a statement the mooring of the USS Kentucky in the port of Busan (350 kilometers southeast of Seoul).

The USS Kentucky is a atomic powered submarine capable of carrying nuclear ballistic missiles (SSBNs), the first of its kind to visit South Korea in some 40 years, according to the ministry.

The submersible can load up to 20 units of the Trident-II submarine ballistic missile (SLBM), which can be equipped with atomic warheads of up to 450 kilotons and has a range of about 12,000 kilometers.

Photo: Reuters File

The Minister of National Defense, Lee Jong-sup, believes that the arrival of the USS Kentucky "demonstrates that the extended US deterrence against the Republic of Korea (official name of the South) is going to be firmly implemented, showcasing the alliance's superior capabilities and readiness against North Korea and a strong combined defense posture before the Korean people and the international community," according to the aforementioned statement.

In the declaration signed in April by US and South Korean presidents Joe Biden and Yoon Suk-yeol, Washington committed to reinforce the so-called “extended deterrence” through which it protects its ally and seeks to discourage Pyongyang from going ahead with the development of weapons of mass destruction.

Among the elements called to reinforce the "extended deterrence" was included the creation of the NCG, mechanism to coordinate US responses to possible North Korean attacks, including the nuclear option.

Campbell himself and Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo today chaired the inaugural meeting of this entity.

In turn, Biden also mentioned in April that he would send South Korea, for the first time in several decades, an SSBN submarine on a temporary basis.

Photo: Reuters File

According to the allies, the arrival of the SSBN reinforces periodic and temporary deployment of other US strategic assets on the peninsula, such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers or bombers.

In fact, an official from the North Korean Ministry of National Defense cearlier last week he endorsed the US plan to send the SSBN to South Korea.

Soon after, Kim Yo-jong, the sister of leader Kim Jong-un, accused the US of carrying out air raids, and on Wednesday the regime launched its second more sophisticated intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-18.

After the failure of the 2019 denuclearization negotiations, tension has risen again on the Korean peninsula, with Pyongyang refusing any offer of dialogue and conducting a record number of missile tests, and Seoul and Washington resuming their grand joint exercises and regularly deploying US strategic assets in the region.

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