Upholding the alliance

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Upholding the alliance

Chinese and Russian military aircraft’s recent violation of our air defense identification zone underscores the importance of tripartite security cooperation among South Korea, the United States and Japan. After the bombers from China and Russia penetrated the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone (Kadiz) Tuesday, an Airborne Warning and Control System (Awacs) reconnaissance plane from Russia entered our national airspace — suspiciously timed with U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton’s trip to Seoul that day. Security analysts link the violation to Beijing and Moscow’s effort to widen the schism between Seoul and Tokyo over the South Korean Supreme Court’s ruling on wartime forced labor.

Under such circumstances, North Korea has claimed to have built a new 2,000-ton class submarine supposedly capable of carrying at least three submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLMBs). If that’s true, it’s a big problem. If one such submarine approaches the West Coast of the United States, it could easily strike the U.S. mainland. Would Washington protect its allies — South Korea and Japan — with the U.S. nuclear umbrella risking its own security? North Korea also test-fired a new type of tactical guided weapon last May. Despite a lack of details on the new missile launch, Pyongyang consistently augments its military power.

China and Russia’s movements ring loud alarms, particularly their ever-tighter military cooperation. It turned out that the Russian Awacs plane’s infiltration of our airspace took place in the middle of a joint reconnaissance drill over the East Sea.

In the meantime, trilateral security cooperation among South Korea, the United States and Japan shows signs of cracks after the row between Seoul and Tokyo over economic retaliations. Yet some presidential aides and lawmakers from the Blue House and the ruling party proposed to revoke the General Security of Military Information Agreement (Gsomia) — a bilateral military intelligence-sharing agreement — with Japan.

Regardless of their conflicts over historical issues, Seoul and Tokyo have maintained good economic relations. But the Korean Supreme Court’s rulings ordering Japanese companies to compensate Korean workers for forced labor during World War II is shaking the relationship.

The Korea-U.S. alliance is also shaky. The two allies scrapped annual military exercises and even decided to delete the term “alliance” from a joint drill to be conducted next month. That translates into a weakening of the Korea-U.S. alliance, the last bastion of our security.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 24, Page 30
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