China on Thursday denounced US plans to dock nuclear-armed submarines in South Korea, saying that the plan runs counter to the goal of a “denuclearized” Korean Peninsula.
“The United States has put regional security at risk and intentionally used the issue of the peninsula as an excuse to create tension,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning, according to The South China Morning Post.
“What the US does is full of Cold War thinking, provoking bloc confrontation, undermining the nuclear non-proliferation system, damaging the strategic interests of other countries, exacerbating tensions on the Korean peninsula, undermining regional peace and stability, and running counter to the goal of the denuclearization of the peninsula,” she added.
The submarine deployments are part of a plan to increase nuclear weapons cooperation between the US and South Korea that was announced by President Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol at the White House on Thursday. While nuclear-armed submarines patrol waters all over the world, they haven’t docked in South Korea since the 1980s, and the move is a purposeful provocation toward Pyongyang and is sure to raise tensions.
The US removed nuclear weapons it had stationed in South Korea in 1991. President Biden said the US doesn’t plan to permanently deploy nuclear weapons in South Korea under the new deal, but “visits” by nuclear-armed submarines and other US strategic assets could become frequent.
“We’re not going to be stationing nuclear weapons on the peninsula,” Biden said in a joint press conference with Yoon. “But we will have visits to ports, visits of nuclear submarines and things like that.”