A US nuclear-powered submarine capable of launching guided missiles arrived in South Korea today as part of Washington’s recent defence commitments with Seoul.
The USS Michigan arrived at the port of Busan, 320 kilometres southeast of Seoul, the South Korean Defence Ministry said in a statement.
It is the first time in six years that such a submarine has arrived in a South Korean port, in a demonstration of the commitment to strengthen deterrence mechanisms against North Korea made by US President Joe Biden to his South Korean counterpart, Yoon Suk-yeol, through the so-called Washington Declaration.
The USS Michigan’s visit to South Korea “aims to substantially implement what was agreed in the Washington Declaration made in April to increase the regular visibility of strategic assets on the Korean peninsula,” Vice Admiral Kim Myung-soo said in the same statement.
The submarine’s arrival “demonstrates the overwhelming capabilities and readiness of the alliance between the Republic of Korea [the country’s official name] and the US to achieve peace through force,” he added.
The USS Michigan, 170 metres long and weighing 18,000 tonnes, is capable of carrying 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles with a range of 2,500 kilometres.
The submarine will remain in South Korean waters until June 22, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.
The arrival came a day after North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles, in the first launch in two months, in an apparent protest against the largest-ever live-fire exercises by Washington and Seoul, which ended on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the South Korean military announced it had recovered much of the North Korean rocket that crashed into the sea after a 15-day search.
On May 31, North Korea attempted to put a first military surveillance satellite into orbit, but the craft and cargo “fell into the sea” shortly after launch due, according to Pyongyang, to a rocket failure.
Tension on the Korean peninsula has been rising since last year when North Korea, which has refused to resume dialogue, carried out a record number of missile tests and allies resumed combined military exercises and the rotational deployment to the peninsula of US military assets such as the USS Michigan.
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