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US Response To Taiwan Crisis Raises Security Concerns In Seoul

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South Korean Vice Defense Minister Shin Beom-chul tried Thursday to allay public fears that US Forces Korea (USFK) troops would be deployed in the event of a Taiwan-related contingency.

Paul LaCamera, the commander of the USFK, responded earlier this week to a forum question on the probable involvement of South Korea in the event that China moved militarily against Taiwan by saying that commanders “contingency plan” for “anything.”

The comments sparked speculation that USFK forces would be called upon to respond to a Taiwan crisis at the expense of their core duty to deal with North Korea’s developing security threats.

In an interview with MBC Radio, Shin stated that “When it comes to the USFK operation, South Korea and the United States have a consultation mechanism. 

“I can tell our citizens that we will ensure consultations would not move in a direction that undermines security on the Korean Peninsula.”

He noted that rather than delving into detail on what may occur in a Taiwan contingency, the basic tenor of LaCamera’s statements seemed to be that military officers should be ready for even a one percent likelihood of security hazards.

“Had there been such (considerations), that would be a matter to be discussed between the South and the U.S.,” he highlighted as cited by Yonhap News. “There haven’t been any discussions on such an issue yet.”

LaCamera stated at a discussion held by the Institute for Corean-American Studies (ICAS) in the United States, “My job here is to defend the Korean Peninsula and to maintain peace and stability and security in Northeast Asia.”

However, he pointed out that what begins locally can spread to the regional and global levels, therefore it is wise to consider “second- and third-order effects” from a contingency.

In spite of North Korea’s increasingly sophisticated threats, some analysts have been wary that the USFK’s role could expand beyond the peninsula to help handle regional security challenges.

Image Credit: Getty

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