Seoul agrees to up purchase of U.S. weapons, start talk on nuke submarines

2017.11.08 13:25:42 | 2017.11.08 13:26:23

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Seoul will no longer have a limit in its missile payloads and initiate discussions with Washington to introduce nuclear submarines and purchase advanced weapons from the U.S. to reinforce independent defense and deterrence capabilities against nuclear-armed North Korea, according to an agreement from a two-day state visit by U.S. President Donald Trump.

During their one-on-one and expanded summit talks on Tuesday, President Moon Jae-in and his U.S. counterpart reached a final agreement on the decision already discussed by the two in September to lift the limit on South Korean missile payloads.

The current missile guidelines binding from 1979 and revised in 2012 caps South Korean missile warheads at 500 kilograms (0.5 metric tons).

They also decided to start talks on South Korea’s additional acquisitions and development of U.S. military equipment including reconnaissance aircrafts as well as sharing the cost of sustaining U.S. troops in Korea “at an adequate and reasonable level.”

Future discussions also would include Seoul’s own development or acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines. Any employment of nuclear power for military use is banned under a nuclear pact between Seoul and Washington. South Korea has already commercialized system-integrated modular advanced reactor (SMART) that is mountable on vessels.

“We have reaffirmed that the two nations must attain strong stance towards North Korea’s nuclear and missiles threats based on our overwhelming superiority of power,” said Moon during a joint press conference on Tuesday.

Trump reminded that the U.S has “unparalleled strength” and has proven its power by positioning three of the largest aircraft carriers in the world and a nuclear submarine. “We hope to God we never have to use,” he said.

He indicated a possible trade-off to even out the U.S. commerce deficit with South Korea through Seoul’s purchase of “billions of dollars” of U.S. equipment, a move he claims would help not only reinforce Korea’s self-defense capabilities but also create U.S job and trade revenue.

"We have the greatest military equipment in the world and South Korea will be ordering billions of dollars of that equipment, which for them makes a lot of sense and for us means jobs and reducing our trade deficit with South Korea," Trump said.

Obviously pleased the with potential weapons sales agreement, Trump did not mention scrapping or renegotiating the free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea which he had criticized as a job-killing horrible deal during his visit to Seoul.

Trump left for Beijing, his third destination in his first Asian tour, on Wednesday after making an address to the Korean National Assembly, the first U.S. leader to do so in 24 years.

He called Pyongyang “brutal” regime “ruled as a cult.”

By Kang Gye-man and Cho Jeehyun

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