Kim, Steel urge strong U.S. alliance with South Korea’s new leader

U.S. Reps. Young Kim (R-CA) and Michelle Steel (R-CA) recently urged the Biden administration to bolster support for the U.S.-Republic of Korea Alliance via closer collaboration with newly inaugurated South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and stronger U.S. Extended Deterrence on the Korean Peninsula.   

The members are concerned about provocations from the Kim Jong-Un-led Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which has conducted 15 missile tests in the first five months of 2022 compared to eight missile tests in 2021 and four in 2020, according to a letter they sent to U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Most recently, on March 24, the DPRK launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) since 2017, wrote the lawmakers, who added that the ICBM “would be able to reach our allies and may demonstrate the ability of DPRK to strike the continental U.S.”  

“It is clear that Kim Jong-Un is not interested in pursuing an end of war declaration and has focused on improving the DPRK’s ability to fire nuclear or short-range conventional warheads at the Republic of Korea, Japan, and U.S. military bases,” wrote Reps. Kim and Steel. “That’s why it is vital that you work with the Yoon administration to enhance U.S. Deterrence in Northeast Asia to prevent any further escalation by the DPRK.”  

The lawmakers noted that capabilities, such as U.S. Extended Deterrence, provide an avenue for necessary resources and weapons in the region to bolster a unified posture.

“This careful consideration is a challenge that requires effective communication between the U.S. and the Yoon administration to deter, compel or contain the DPRK,” they wrote. “As our military and diplomatic engagements continue to grow, it is our responsibility to immediately work with our allies and ameliorate the response to the DPRK’s aggression towards our partners and friends in Korea.”