A South Korean general said Tuesday that South Korea’s President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol will consider joining AUKUS and the Quad, two US-led security groupings aimed at countering China.
“Our President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol has said that his new government will try to examine whether the country should join the Quad and AUKUS to strengthen the Indo-Pacific strategy,” Maj. Gen. Jung Hae-il, the president of the Korea National Defense University, said at a conference in India.
AUKUS is a military pact focused on technology sharing that was signed last year by the US, Britain, and Australia. Under the deal, Canberra will get nuclear-powered submarines, and the three countries recently announced they will be developing hypersonic weapons together.
The Quad is a security grouping that consists of the US, Australia, India, and Japan. To hawks in Washington, the Quad is seen as a potential foundation for an anti-China NATO-style alliance in the Asia Pacific. At the end of 2020, the four nations held military exercises together for the first time in 13 years.
Yoon was elected in March and is set to replace South Korean President Moon Jae-in next month. Yoon has vowed to take a harder line toward China and North Korea than Moon, who is a proponent of peaceful reunification with Pyongyang.
As part of his effort to be more hawkish, Yoon wants the US to return nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula. During talks in Washington earlier this month, Yoon asked if the US could deploy nuclear bombers and submarines to South Korea.