International Relations

What what is the Washington Declaration?

The background is the recent visit of South Korea’s President to the United States to honour the 70th anniversary of bilateral relations between the two countries. During the visit, the two countries inked the “Washington Declaration” in response to North Korea’s regional aggressiveness.

Key Terms in the Washington Declaration

  • The United States would deploy a nuclear ballistic submarine in the Korean peninsula, according to the declaration.
  • A nuclear consultation committee would be formed to develop principles for collaborative reaction techniques, and South Korea would get intelligence from the US on nuclear progress.
  • Combined training: Through combined military training programmes and an annual interagency simulation, the United States will bolster South Korea’s nuclear deterrence capabilities.
  • Deterrent building: The proclamation reaffirmed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, meaning that South Korea will refrain from developing its own independent nuclear capability, instead focusing on deterrent through an alliance-based approach.

The Treaty’s Consequences

  • While the existence of the agreement is predicated on South Korea’s security needs, the policy represents great power dynamics in which the interests of the larger power (US) take precedence.
  • US ownership of the nukes: The US is the only’sole authority’ to use the US nuclear arsenal in the event of a nuclear conflict.
  • Maintaining stability: Assuring its friends that the US and its nuclear weapons will safeguard them by being responsible for regional stability meshes with the greater goal of non-proliferation.

The US Position on South Korea’s Nuclear Capabilities

  • The SK nuclear programme was sabotaged: South Korea’s nuclear development plan, which was supported by former President Park Chung Hee, has been hampered by US pressure.
  • Strategic arms reduction: In the 1990s, the United States evacuated one hundred nuclear weapons from South Korea as part of the “Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty” to force North Korea to disarm.
  • Renewed attention following North Korea’s rise: The Nuclear Posture Review 2022 reflects a shift in the US narrative, which is now concerned about North Korea’s developing nuclear capabilities.

Domestic and regional reactions

  • China claims it jeopardises the nuclear non-proliferation regime and other countries’ strategic interests.
  • North Korea: Kim Jong-Un’s sister warned that the declaration would only put North-East Asia’s and the world’s peace and security in jeopardy.


  • Overall, the Declaration is an essential step towards more open and close coordination among US allies in the Indo-Pacific.
  • It attempts to address not only North Korean moves, but also those of China and Russia.
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