US to send ballistic missile submarine to South Korea amid tensions with North Korea

According to information published by Deutsche Welle on April 26, 2023, a US Navy's ballistic missile submarine will soon be visiting South Korea. This will be the first time a US SSBN will visit the peninsula since the early 1980s.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Los Angeles class fast attack submarine (SSN) USS Springfield. (Picture source: US DoD)

The US-South Korea military alliance has been a cornerstone of both countries' national security and foreign policy since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

The alliance was formalized by a mutual defense treaty signed by the two countries, which was later amended in 1966 to give South Korea operational control of its military during wartime. Since then, the partnership has grown stronger, with regular joint military exercises, intelligence sharing, and US troop deployments in South Korea.

The military alliance has played a vital role in ensuring peace and stability on the Korean peninsula. North Korea's aggressive military posture and nuclear weapons program have posed a significant threat to the security of the region, and the US-South Korea alliance has worked to deter potential aggression from the North.

The US maintains a significant military presence in South Korea, with approximately 28,500 US troops stationed in the country. The US also provides military aid and assistance to South Korea to modernize its military capabilities and improve its defense posture.

Despite the importance of the alliance, there have been challenges in recent years. One of the most significant challenges has been disagreements over the cost-sharing of US troops in South Korea.

In 2019, negotiations over cost-sharing broke down, leading to the US threatening to withdraw troops from South Korea. The two countries ultimately reached a new agreement in 2021.

There have also been disagreements over the scope and nature of joint military exercises. In 2018, the US and South Korea suspended joint military exercises to facilitate diplomatic efforts with North Korea. However, the exercises resumed in 2019, albeit on a smaller scale.