featured graphic for Michelle Steel, Congresswoman for California’s 48th District, after COVID-19

Reps. Steel, Kim push Administration to reaffirm commitment to U.S./South Korean alliance

Ahead of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s inauguration, Reps. Michelle Steel (R-CA) and Young Kim (R-CA) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging them to strengthen the U.S.’s strategic deterrence efforts on the Korean Peninsula, push back against Kim Jong Un’s latest hostility, and reaffirm a collaborative approach with the incoming Administration. The lawmakers sent the letter on the eve of the inauguration and after increasingly aggressive military escalations by the North Korean regime in recent months.

“It is clear that Kim Jong-Un is not interested in pursuing an end of war declaration and has focused on improving the DPRK’s ability to fire nuclear or short-range conventional warheads at the Republic of Korea, Japan, and U.S. military bases,” wrote the members.

They continued, “That’s why it is vital that you work with the Yoon Administration to enhance U.S. Deterrence in Northeast Asia to prevent any further escalation by the DPRK.”

“As our military and diplomatic engagements continue to grow, it is our responsibility to immediately work with our allies and ameliorate the response to the DPRK’s aggression towards our partners and friends in Korea,” the members concluded.

The full text of the letter is here and below:

Dear Secretary Austin and Secretary Blinken:

As Members of Congress who are deeply committed to the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) safety and security, we write to express our strong support for the U.S.-ROK Alliance and urge collaboration with the Yoon Administration to strengthen U.S. Extended Deterrence on the Korean Peninsula in light of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) provocations.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, led by Kim Jong-Un, has conducted 15 missile tests in the first five months of 2022. By comparison, the DPRK conducted eight missile tests in 2021 and four in 2020. Even more concerning is that on March 24, 2022, the DPRK launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) since 2017 which would be able to reach our allies and may demonstrate the ability of DPRK to strike the continental U.S.

It is clear that Kim Jong-Un is not interested in pursuing an end of war declaration and has focused on improving the DPRK’s ability to fire nuclear or short-range conventional warheads at the Republic of Korea, Japan, and U.S. military bases. That’s why it is vital that you work with the Yoon Administration to enhance U.S. Deterrence in Northeast Asia to prevent any further escalation by the DPRK.

The U.S. plays an important role in supporting our allies, anticipating danger, and improving strategic stability – especially on the Korean Peninsula. Capabilities, such as U.S. Extended Deterrence, provide an avenue for necessary resources and weapons in the region to bolster our unified posture. This careful consideration is a challenge that requires effective communication between the U.S. and the Yoon Administration to deter, compel, or contain the DPRK. As our military and diplomatic engagements continue to grow, it is our responsibility to immediately work with our allies and ameliorate the response to the DPRK’s aggression towards our partners and friends in Korea.

We look forward to working with you on the many important issues relating to this strong alliance.

This article was released by the Office of Congresswoman Michelle Steel.