A senior Seoul official said it could include nuclear-propelled submarines.
|US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)|
“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 during a joint press conference with Moon at Cheong Wa Dae. “They will be ordering billions of dollars worth of equipment and we have already approved some of those orders.”
The Seoul official explained that two leaders had agreed to open “working-level” discussions over South Korea’s potential acquisition of advanced US weapons.
The announcement comes amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula on the back of North Korea’s sixth and largest nuclear test in September. South Korea is also seeking resumption of wartime operational control from the US, to reduce military reliance on the US.
The media here is drawing up a potential “shopping” list based on the current circumstances and Trump’s remarks. Potential items on the list include the joint surveillance and target attack radar system (JSTARS), the SM-3 ship-based interceptor, P-8A maritime patrol aircraft and 20 more F-35s.
South Korea has bought more than 36 trillion won ($32 billion) worth of US weapons over the past decade. The items include four RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and 40 F-35 stealth fighter jets.
The US, however, is unlikely to sell its spy satellite technology, which means Seoul will likely seek a relevant technology transfer or other cooperation from Washington in the format of “joint development.”
Regarding submarines, a Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters that there are a lot of things to “resolve,” given their characteristics.
The allies are not yet at the stage to produce any outcome on that matter, as they have to discuss it following a step-by-step process, he added.
Recently South Korea and the US agreed to expand deployment of US strategic assets, such as its aircraft carrier strike group, nuclear-powered submarines and stealth bombers. Most recently, the US dispatched the USS Ronald Reagan and B-1B supersonic bombers on the peninsula as a show of force against the North.
By Jung Min-kyung (firstname.lastname@example.org)