Biden issues stark warning on North Korea nuclear threat
A nuclear attack by North Korea on the US and its allies would mean the end of Kim Jong-un’s regime, Joe Biden said standing alongside South Korea’s Yoon Suk-yeol in the White House.
The stark warning from the American president came as Mr Biden and Mr Yoon secured a landmark deal during the South Korean leader’s visit to Washington on Wednesday.
“A North Korean nuclear attack against the US or its partners is unacceptable, and would result in the end of whatever regime took the action,” Mr Biden said.
“I have absolute authority, and sole authority, to launch a nuclear weapon, but what the declaration means is that we will consult with our allies, if any action is so called for.”
The two leaders signed an agreement to periodically dock US nuclear-armed submarines in South Korea for the first time in more than 40 years.
The visits by US submarines in the Korean peninsula are a key element of the so-called “Washington Declaration,” aimed at deterring North Korea from carrying out an attack on its neighbour.
In a joint news conference at the Rose Garden of the White House, Mr Biden praised the “ironclad” alliance between the two countries.
He said their partnership is “particularly important in the face of DPRK’s increased threats and the blatant violation of US sanctions”, referring to North Korea with its formal name.
Mr Yoon called the Washington Declaration a "righteous alliance" which marked an "unprecedented" commitment by the US to bolster defence, deter attacks and protect US allies by using nuclear weapons
"Sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula does not happen automatically," Mr Yoon said.
He added: "Our two countries have agreed to immediate bilateral presidential consultations in the event of North Korea‘s nuclear attack and promised to respond swiftly, overwhelmingly and decisively using the full force of the alliance, including the United States’ nuclear weapons."
South Korea has agreed to not develop its own nuclear weapons in return fpr the US’ declaration and agreed that no nuclear weapons are being deployed onto South Korean shores.
"We are not going to be stationing nuclear weapons on the peninsula," Mr Biden underscored.
Mr Yoon had said earlier this year that his country was weighing developing its own nuclear weapons or asking the US to redeploy them on the Korean Peninsula.
The two will also develop a Nuclear Consultative Group aimed at planning nuclear planning issues.
The declaration has come at a time of heightened tensions in the Korean Peninsula over North Korea’s nuclear buildup despite years of international sanctions targetting Mr Kim’s regime.
Pyongyang has stepped up testing including test launches of a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time earlier this month.
The press conference was followed by a fancy black-tie dinner with a huge fanfare and a star-studded guest list including actor Angelina Jolie, home improvement duo Chip and Joanna Gaines and Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim.