S. Korea Presidential Candidate Seeks Nuclear-Powered Submarines

South Korean presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung said that he will seek U.S. support for the country to have its own nuclear-powered submarines to better counter threats from North Korea.

In an interview with three media outlets, Lee mentioned the AUKUS deal between Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. which will provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines using U.S. technology.

“It is absolutely necessary for us to have those subs. They are not weaponized in themselves, and technology transfer is under way to Australia,” said Lee.

South Korea is currently banned from acquiring such submarines under a civilian nuclear energy pact with Washington.

Lee added that he will also push to reopen the denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea which stalled after a summit between former U.S. president Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un collapsed in 2019.

“There’s a river of distrust between them,” Lee said, adding that it is “South Korea’s role to narrow the gap” between the two countries.

The presidential hopeful also asserted that South Korea should not feel forced to pick sides between the U.S. and China amid an intensifying rivalry between the two world powers.

“Rather than South Korea having to pick a side, it will take diplomatic prowess to encourage the U.S. and China to reach out to us for cooperation,” Lee said.

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