Northeast AsiaWeapons Proliferation

ROK-U.S. alliance marks 70th anniversary with strengthened mutual defense commitments


South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and United States President Joe Biden highlighted 70 years of the Republic of Korea (ROK)-U.S. alliance with a commitment to regional peace and stability and continued efforts to deter North Korea’s nuclear weapons proliferation.

“The two presidents reaffirmed their ironclad commitment to what has become a global alliance focused on deepening defense and security ties, expanding economic, commercial, and environmental cooperation, increasing digital and technology collaboration — including in the space sector — and broadening development assistance, educational exchanges, and people-to-people ties,” according to a White House statement on Yoon’s weeklong visit to Washington, D.C., in late April 2023.

Yoon called the alliance the “linchpin of peace and stability” on the Korean Peninsula and around the globe. (Pictured: U.S. President Joe Biden, left, and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol speak at a state dinner in Yoon’s honor at the White House in April 2023.)

“Our alliance is an alliance of values based on our shared universal values of freedom and democracy,” Yoon said. “It is not a contractual relationship of convenience only seeking for interest. Guided by our shared values, our alliance is an everlasting partnership. The ROK-U.S. alliance is also resilient. Together, we can resolve any issues between us through close consultations.”

President Biden said the nations are ready to take on any challenges, saying they are “doubling down” on cooperation in the face of threats such as those from North Korea.

“President Biden reaffirmed that the United States’ commitment to the ROK and the Korean people is enduring and ironclad, and that any nuclear attack by the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] against the ROK will be met with a swift, overwhelming and decisive response,” the White House said in a statement, using the formal name for North Korea.

The presidents outlined areas of defense and global security cooperation, reaffirming commitments and introducing new pledges, among them:

  • The allies launched a nuclear consultative group to discuss planning for nuclear contingencies and to cooperate on nuclear deterrence.
  • They reaffirmed their commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as the foundation for nuclear disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
  • The U.S. committed to enhancing its deployment of strategic assets in and around the Korean Peninsula, in particular nuclear-capable platforms. The alliance will also expand the scope and scale of joint exercises and maintain regular, senior-level defense engagements and dialogues to contend with regional threats.
  • ROK and U.S. forces are increasing interconnectedness to enhance joint planning and execution.
  • To ensure readiness and strengthen joint force posture, ROK and U.S. forces are expanding field training exercises, including Ulchi Freedom Shield and Warrior Shield, to ensure a theater-level combined exercise system. They also plan to hold trilateral exercises with Japan.
  • The ROK and U.S. will use regional cooperation working groups to enhance maritime domain awareness and defense cooperation with Indo-Pacific partners.

In addition to defense and global security, the allies outlined activities in economic, commercial and environmental cooperation, technology, digital and space cooperation, and development, education and people-to-people ties.

“In view of these critical developments, President Biden and President Yoon send a firm message to the international community that the United States and the ROK will stand together in the face of any and all threats to their shared security,” a White House statement said, “and continue their close consultation on further steps to strengthen extended deterrence.”


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