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Yoon says alliance with U.S. upgraded to 'nuclear-based alliance'

North Korea 11:13 June 06, 2023

By Lee Haye-ah

SEOUL, June 6 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk Yeol said Tuesday the alliance with the United States has been upgraded to a "nuclear-based alliance" under his agreement with U.S. President Joe Biden to strengthen Washington's nuclear commitment to South Korea.

Yoon made the remark during a Memorial Day speech at Seoul National Cemetery, referring to the Washington Declaration adopted at his summit with Biden in Washington in April, which included measures to strengthen the U.S. "extended deterrence" commitment to defending South Korea with all of its military capabilities, including nuclear weapons.

President Yoon Suk Yeol delivers a Memorial Day speech at Seoul National Cemetery in Seoul on June 6, 2023. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol delivers a Memorial Day speech at Seoul National Cemetery in Seoul on June 6, 2023. (Yonhap)

"President Biden and I jointly announced the Washington Declaration in April, which dramatically strengthens the extended deterrence execution of U.S. nuclear assets," Yoon said. "The South Korea-U.S. alliance has now been upgraded to a nuclear-based alliance."

Yoon noted that North Korea is advancing its nuclear and missile capabilities and has legalized the use of nuclear weapons.

"Our government and military will defend our people's lives and safety by building an ironclad security posture based on a stronger-than-ever South Korea-U.S. alliance," he said.

Yoon and first lady Kim Keon Hee attended the burial ceremony of the remains of PFC Kim Bong-hak ahead of the Memorial Day ceremony.

The private first class died during the Battle of Bloody Ridge in September 1951 but his remains were discovered three different times in separate locations between 2011 and 2016.

The remains were identified as Kim's in February and buried Tuesday alongside those of his younger brother, who also died during the Korean War.

"The two brothers were reunited as remains 73 years after they took part in the Korean War to defend the freedom of their homeland," Yoon said. "However, the remains of numerous war dead have still not been able to return to their families."

Yoon said 160,000 South Korean troops died during the war but the remains of 120,000 have not been found.

"The government will work until the end so that the fallen heroes can return to their families," he said. "We will also continue to work to bring the remains of the patriotic martyrs who died overseas while fighting for our independence."

Yoon noted that the veterans ministry was upgraded to full-fledged ministry status on Monday.

He also vowed to take better care of the nation's heroes, saying it is the responsibility of the state to remember and treat with respect the heroes in uniform, including soldiers, police officers and firefighters, who gave their all to protect the nation and the people.


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