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Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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Showing posts for "U.S.-ROK Relations"

The Future of U.S.-ROK Nuclear Cooperation

by Scott A. Snyder
kori-power-lines Power transmission towers are seen near the plant of new Shin Kori No. 3 reactor and No. 4 reactor of state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) in Ulsan, about 255 miles southeast of Seoul, in this photo taken September 3, 2013. (Lee Jae-Won/Courtesy: Reuters)

This post was co-authored with Toby Dalton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Miles Pomper, senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

South Korean and U.S. negotiators are on the verge of concluding a new bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement to replace the current outdated one, which has been in place since 1974. This new agreement undoubtedly will be criticized by some in South Korea because it does not give Seoul unconditional approval to enrich uranium or reprocess spent fuel. But such narrowly-focused criticism is misplaced, for it overlooks the importance of the agreement to Korea’s energy security and the future of its nuclear program. Read more »

South Korean Middle Power Diplomacy and the U.S. Rebalance

by Scott A. Snyder
march-2015-wang-yun Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) is greeted by his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se during their meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul on March 21, 2015. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy: Reuters)

The U.S. rebalance to Asia, the post–Sunnylands U.S.-China discussion of a “new type of great power relationship,” and most recently the emergence of an apparent Chinese challenge to U.S. global economic leadership through the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) have naturally focused attention on U.S.-China relations. But the AIIB question in particular has highlighted the question of how countries caught between Washington and Beijing, including South Korea, will respond to increasing pressure from each great power on specific issues. The AIIB case also raises the question of whether South Korea’s own interest in middle power diplomacy will ultimately reinforce or conflict with the U.S.-ROK alliance. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of March 20, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel talks with South Korea's first Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-Yong (R) during their meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul on March 17, 2015 (Courtesy: Reuters). U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel talks with South Korea's first Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-Yong (R) during their meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul on March 17, 2015 (Courtesy: Reuters).

1. South Korea warns China against interfering amid missile defense debate. On Tuesday a South Korean Ministry of Defense spokesperson asked Beijing to not interfere in its defense policy, an unusual request with an increasingly close regional partner. Washington has been asking Seoul to deploy a ballistic missile defense system, Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), to South Korea. The United States believes the system would serve as a deterrent against the increasing North Korean missile threat, while Beijing sees it as a masked attempt to hedge in China. The debate over THAAD in South Korea has been growing the past year, especially as North Korea continues various missile tests. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of March 6, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A policeman stands guard in front of the U.S. embassy in central Seoul after Ambassador Mark Lippert was slashed in the face by a Korean nationalist on March 4, 2015 (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy: Reuters). A policeman stands guard in front of the U.S. embassy in central Seoul after Ambassador Mark Lippert was slashed in the face by a Korean nationalist on March 4, 2015 (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy: Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, William Piekos, and Ariella Rotenberg look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. U.S. Ambassador to South Korea attacked in Seoul. A South Korean man identified as Kim Ki-jong, a fifty-five-year-old South Korean with a record of violent activism, slashed U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert with a knife across the face and hand on Thursday morning local time. Lippert received eighty stitches on his face, from chin to cheek and is reported to be in good condition as of Friday. The assailant told reporters he attacked the ambassador to protest regular U.S.-ROK joint military exercises. U.S. diplomats have varied levels of security details, and though Seoul is considered a “low-threat” post, a security team was accompanying Lippert at the time of the attack. Lippert, who took up his post in Seoul in October 2014, has taken a proactively friendly approach toward his post, taking his dog Grigsby on regular walks in the city, maintaining an active Twitter account, and giving his son, born in Seoul in January 2015, a Korean middle name. Read more »

Shocking Reminder of Korea Tensions

by Scott A. Snyder
support for lippert Activists from a conservative and pro-U.S. civic group hold banners bearing messages to wish U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert a speedy recovery in front of a hospital where he is admitted to, in Seoul on March 5, 2015. Lippert underwent two-and-a-half hours of surgery after he was slashed in the face by a Korean nationalist, Kim Ki-jong, in an attack at a forum held in Seoul on Thursday to discuss Korean reunification, officials said. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy: Reuters)

A version of this post originally appeared on CNN and can be found here.

The attack on Mark Lippert, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, allegedly by a knife-wielding Korean progressive activist at a breakfast meeting in Seoul, was a rare and shocking reminder of the ongoing conflict that continues to divide the Korean Peninsula. Read more »

Cybersecurity, Nuclear Safety, and the Need for a Security Regime in Northeast Asia

by Scott A. Snyder
EAS summit Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korea's President Park Geun-Hye, Myanmar's President Thein Sein, and China's Premier Li Keqiang hold hands as they pose for a photo before the ASEAN Plus Three Summit during the 25th ASEAN Summit in Naypyitaw November 13, 2014. (Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy: Reuters)

The U.S.-DPRK tit-fo-tat over the Sony hack has continued into the new year, with the Obama administration announcing sanctions on three organizations and ten individuals on January 2 and North Korea responding with indignation two days later. But the media focus on the Sony hack obscures a potentially much more dangerous hacking incident that has also been attributed to North Korea involving release of personal information of over 10,000 employees of the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Company (KHNP), which operates twenty-three nuclear reactors in South Korea. Read more »

New Challenges for the U.S.-ROK Alliance

by Scott A. Snyder
2014 US-ROK 2 plus 2 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (second right) and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel co-hosted the 2+2 Ministerial with South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (second left) and Minister of National Defense Han Min-Koo, at the State Department in Washington on October 24, 2014 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy: Reuters).

The U.S.-South Korea alliance has grown deeper since 2009, when Presidents Obama and Lee Myung-bak announced a U.S.-ROK Joint Vision Statement that expanded the framework for bilateral cooperation beyond the Korean peninsula to regional and global issues. This statement set the stage for both deeper U.S.-ROK security coordination toward North Korea and for South Korean contributions to anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden and South Korean participation in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. The vision was reaffirmed by Park Geun-hye last year in Washington on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the alliance. I argue in my chapter for National Bureau of Asian Research’s most recent volume, Strategic Asia 2014-2015: U.S. Alliances and Partnerships at the Center of Global Power, that further implementation of this broadened vision has created new internal and external challenges. Read more »

Not U.S. Isolationism, But a Rebalancing of Priorities and Means

by Scott A. Snyder
shangri la sideline U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (center) join hands with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera (left) and South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin during a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 12th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Asia Security Summit: The Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore on June 1, 2013 (Edgar Su/Courtesy: Reuters).

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs 2014 survey released last month entitled “Foreign Policy in the Age of Retrenchment” reports that over 40 percent of Americans believe that the United States should “stay out” rather than take an active part in global affairs. But the survey also shows that over four-fifths of Americans believe that the United States should continue to show strong leadership in world affairs. Possibly the strongest counter-arguments for smart American leadership versus isolationism and retrenchment are expressed in poll results regarding American attitudes toward its alliances in Asia. This is an important finding because it shows growing American understanding of the importance of Asia and growing support for the strategic value of the U.S. rebalance to Asia. Read more »

South Korea-U.S. Nuclear Cooperation: How to Move Forward

by Scott A. Snyder
shin kori 3 and 4_au The Shin Kori No. 1 reactor of state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) are seen in Ulsan, about 255 miles southeast of Seoul. Picture taken on September 3, 2013 (Lee Jae-Won/Courtesy: Reuters).

South Korea’s vibrant civilian nuclear sector, which consists of 23 reactors that supplied approximately 30 percent of its electricity in 2012, was built through cooperation with the United States. The United States shared know-how and technology that enabled the construction and operation of South Korea’s first reactors in the 1960s. American companies such as Westinghouse and the former Combustion Engineering worked closely with South Korean counterparts over decades to build a vibrant nuclear power generation capacity in South Korea, a country that has virtually no indigenous energy production resources. Read more »

Can Beijing and Seoul Become Strategic Partners?

by Scott A. Snyder
park-xi-2013 South Korean president Park Geun-Hye (right) and Chinese president Xi Jinping inspect Chinese honor guards during a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 27, 2013. Park visited China in June 2013, and Xi will pay a return visit to Seoul this week (Wang Zhao/Courtesy: Reuters).

China’s President Xi Jinping will complete an exchange of state visits with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in the space of a little less than a year. This is a remarkable intensification of the relationship between Seoul and Beijing, especially when one considers that Xi Jinping has yet to visit Pyongyang or receive Kim Jong-un. Likewise, routinized summits between Seoul and Tokyo have vanished as Seoul-Beijing relations have intensified, raising questions in Tokyo about whether Seoul might prefer Beijing over the United States and Japan. But despite a burgeoning trade relationship between Seoul and Beijing that is larger than the combined value of South Korea’s trade with the United States and Japan, what future can Xi and Park forge for China-South Korea relations going forward, and to what purpose? Read more »