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Could Trump’s Return Lead to an Enhanced U.S. Nuclear Umbrella in Asia?

Daniel Kim Views  

Yonhap News

Frederick Fleitz, Vice Chairman of the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) and a known close associate of former U.S. President Donald Trump stated on July 9 that there would be no reduction or withdrawal of U.S. forces in South Korea if Trump were to regain power.

Fleitz, in a meeting with reporters in Seoul, said that if Trump is re-elected, he will recognize the importance of the presence of U.S. forces in South Korea as a crucial deterrent against North Korea.

He emphasized, “The role of U.S. forces in South Korea is important,” adding, “The deterrent role of U.S. forces in South Korea will increase in response to rising regional threats.”

Fleitz, who is visiting Korea at the invitation of the Sejong Institute, emphasized that the primary reason for the presence of U.S. forces in South Korea is to deter North Korea, not China, as some U.S. experts might believe.

Regarding South Korea’s nuclear armament, he stated that it would set a bad precedent for the non-proliferation principles and that strengthening the U.S. nuclear umbrella would be a better solution.

He mentioned, “I know there are critics in the U.S. who say otherwise, but I do not see them as representing Trump’s position.” He continued, “Extended deterrence and the nuclear umbrella are very important elements in the South Korea-U.S. relationship and will continue to be maintained.”

While clarifying that he was not speaking as a member of the Trump campaign, Fleitz stressed that the foreign policy of a second Trump administration would significantly improve regional security and greatly benefit South Korea’s security.

He predicted, “Everyone will know that the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region has significantly deteriorated since former Trump left the Oval Office,” adding, “U.S. deterrence and leadership, and a strong alliance relationship, will be restored if Trump is re-elected.”

Regarding North Korea-U.S. relations, he expressed a willingness for direct dialogue.

Fleitz criticized, “(During the Biden administration) the U.S. has appointed a part-time special envoy for North Korea who also serves as ambassador to Indonesia (former U.S. Special Representative for North Korea, Sung Kim).” He said, “The U.S. needs to have a serious policy to respond to the North Korean threat, which includes a reliable special envoy for North Korea, high-level involvement, and close coordination with allies.”

He also added, “Trump will try to resume bilateral dialogue with North Korea. But before that, there will be intense consultations with Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.”

Fleitz said that President Yoon Suk Yeol and Trump will become good friends, and added, “I think it is essential for the U.S. to have a long discussion with South Korea before engaging with Kim Jong Un to understand how the threat from North Korea has evolved compared to Trump’s first term.”

Regarding the ongoing negotiations between the South Korean government and the Biden administration on the 12th Special Measures Agreement (SMA) for defense cost-sharing, he predicted, “Negotiations will continue even if Trump is re-elected. Both sides will reach a satisfactory agreement.”

He further stated, “I think the Trump administration will put pressure on Germany, France, and Italy to make sufficient contributions to the alliance.”

Fleitz is a former analyst for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). During the first Trump administration, he served as Chief of Staff to National Security Advisor John Bolton. There are predictions that if Trump were to regain power, Fleitz could be reappointed as a key figure in U.S. foreign and security policy.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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