The Korea Herald


Another Trump presidency won’t affect US-South Korea joint nuclear deterrence: defense chief

By Kim Arin

Published : Dec. 29, 2023 - 14:04

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South Korean Minister of National Defense attends a Cabinet meeting held Nov. 22. (Yonhap) South Korean Minister of National Defense attends a Cabinet meeting held Nov. 22. (Yonhap)

A change of administration in Washington is unlikely to sway South Korea-US joint deterrence of North Korea's nuclear threats, the national defense chief in Seoul said Thursday.

Minister of National Defense Shin Won-sik told reporters in a press conference that he doesn’t think the bilateral cooperation on nuclear deterrence will depend on which administration gets elected in the US, “whether it be Biden’s or Trump’s.”

Responding to a question on concerns that Donald Trump getting elected again could set back the progress made with President Joe Biden, the minister said that he knows “the US to be a country that keeps its promises made with other countries.”

“I think we can expect to see some concrete outcomes in the third meeting of the NCG in Seoul next year,” he said, adding that both countries were upholding their commitments as outlined in the Washington Declaration.

The minister said Seoul is wary of Pyongyang carrying out provocations in ahead of the general election in Korea and the US presidential election. “We know that North Korea sometimes times its military provocations around political events in South Korea and the US,” he said.

The South’s National Intelligence Service said Thursday that the North Korean leader has called for preparations to "cause a big stir in South Korea early next year." North Korea has a history of testing its missiles and nuclear weapons around the time frame of South Korea’s election seasons.

“Kim Jong-un thought once he gets ahold of nuclear weapons to make threats with, he would get what he wants from his enemies. The opposite is happening. The US-South Korea alliance remains strong. Nuclear weapons didn’t turn out (to be the game changer) he thought they would be,” he said.

North Korea recently began arming its soldiers guarding the Joint Security Area near the border after pulling out of an inter-Korean deal for easing military tensions. The minister said no weapons other than pistols had been sighted in the JSA so far.