President Biden announced earlier today that the U.S. will deploy nuclear-armed Ohio class submarines to the Korean Peninsula for the first time since the 1980s. The announcement was made during a joint press conference between President Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. A senior Biden administration official said this move is a part of their plan to make U.S. deterrence in the region “more visible.” The nuclear-armed submarines are just one of the assets that will be temporarily deployed to the southern half of the peninsula as part of the new ‘Washington Declaration.’ More joint military exercises will also be carried out as part of the new declaration.
The South Korean President said his nation and the U.S. will take “swift, overwhelming, and decisive” action in the event of a nuclear attack by North Korea. President Biden echoed the statement made by his South Korean counterpart by saying, “A nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States, its allies, or partners is not acceptable and will result in the end of whatever regime that would take such an action.” Biden later said that the United States and South Korea still seek “serious and substantial diplomatic breakthroughs” with North Korea.
The Washington Declaration comes at a time when tensions between North and South Korea are the highest they’ve been in decades and possibly ever. One Biden administration official was quoted as saying, “It is meant to be crystal clear that the United States and ROK (Republic of Korea AKA South Korea) understand the stakes.” Another official said, “China needs to understand that these steps are intended to prevent a cascading series of actions in the Indo-Pacific.” The recent rise in tensions has been fueled by North Korea carrying out test launches of their nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. North Korean media says the tests are a response to what they call “intentionally provocative” joint military exercises such as ‘Operation Freedom Shield.’