WASHINGTON — President Biden smacked down South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s proposal for joint nuclear exercises Monday, telling reporters he’s not discussing the idea.
Hours earlier, a South Korean newspaper quoted Yoon as saying that joint military exercises involving nuclear weapons are under consideration and that US officials are “quite positive” about the idea.
A reporter asked Biden about the report on the White House lawn as he returned to Washington from a donor’s beach home in St. Croix, USVI.
“President Biden, are you discussing joint nuclear exercises with South Korea right now?” the journalist asked.
“No,” Biden replied, shooting the questioner a disbelieving look.
It’s unclear if the 80-year-old president was unaware of any talks among his subordinates. The White House did not immediately offer additional comment.
The Chosun Ilbo newspaper ran an interview with Yoon on Monday describing the idea for joint nuclear exercises to deter nuclear-armed North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un.
“The nuclear weapons belong to the United States, but planning, information sharing, exercises and training should be jointly conducted by South Korea and the United States,” Yoon said.
It’s not the first time Yoon, who took office in May, has had an embarrassing interaction with his American counterpart.
In September, the South Korean president, 62, said into a hot mic at a United Nations event in New York City that it would be “humiliating” for Biden if Congress rejected his $6 billion pledge to global health projects.
According to a translation published by the Washington Post, Yoon said to his aides, “It would be so humiliating for Biden if these idiots don’t pass it in Congress.”
A different translation, by the South China Morning Post, had Yoon saying, “How could Biden not lose damn face if these f–kers do not pass it in Congress?”
Kim said Sunday that his new year resolution is an “exponential” increase in North Korea’s nuclear weapon arsenal, which has grown to as many as a few dozen bombs since 2006.
The portly 38-year-old dictator reportedly has been ignoring US outreach since Biden took office after meeting three times with former President Donald Trump.
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