President Donald Trump announced during a joint press conference with South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in on Tuesday that Seoul “will be buying a tremendous” amount of American military equipment.
The major purchases suggest that the leftist Moon has abandoned campaign promises to take a softer approach to North Korea, which almost immediately took a more belligerent approach to its southern neighbor upon Moon’s ascent to the presidency.
“We have the greatest military equipment in the world and South Korea will be ordering billions of dollars of that equipment,” Trump told reporters, according to South Korea’s Joongang Daily.
The deal, for South Korea, “makes a lot of sense and for us means jobs and reducing our trade deficit with South Korea,” Trump continued.
Following talks with Trump, Moon asserted that he was ready to take a harder line on Pyongyang. “We agreed to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue peacefully and establish a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula,” he said, adding, “We also reaffirmed the principle to jointly and sternly respond to the escalating North Korean nuclear and missile threats with overwhelming supremacy of power.”
“We agreed to push forward our cooperation at an unprecedented level to bolster Korea’s self-defense capabilities,” Moon affirmed.
While the two heads of state did not specify what equipment South Korea would purchase, an unnamed “senior presidential official” in Korea told Joongang that the technology in question includes “nuclear-powered submarines … discussed for some time and advanced reconnaissance assets,” as well as some other “advanced strategic assets.”
Another South Korean news service, Yonhap, echoes that report, stating that the South Korean government is seeking “spy satellites to help monitor the North’s nuclear and missile activities. It is also studying the feasibility of introducing nuclear-powered submarines.”
Yonhap adds that a simple purchase of such equipment is unprecedented, so a “joint development” plan for the technology may be more likely.
In addition to discussing negotiations with South Korea, Trump made clear during his visit to South Korea that his administration was not interested in soft diplomatic approaches to the communist North Korean regime, instead using displays of “unparalleled strength” to dissuade Pyongyang from attacking America or its allies.
“We are showing great strength and I think they understand we have unparalleled strength. There has never been strength like it,” Trump said. “We call on every responsible nation, including China and Russia, to demand that North Korean regime end its nuclear weapons and its missile programs and live in peace.”
Moon was elected president after the impeachment of conservative predecessor Park Geun-hye, whose parents were both assassinated by the North Korean rogue regime. His campaign heavily emphasized taking a softer approach towards the Kim regime, and he has said he would consider personally visiting Pyongyang if invited.
In particular, Moon opposed the deployment of the American Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system, designed to intercept any aerial North Korean attacks. Both China and Russia also strongly oppose THAAD’s presence on the Korean peninsula, as its capabilities allow it to intercept missiles deep within China and Russia. Moon approved further installment of the THAAD system following a series of missile launches from Pyongyang and its sixth nuclear test.
“South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work,” President Trump tweeted in September. “They only understand one thing!”