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Why a ballistic sub can visit South Korea but not Japan

Tokyo's three nonnuclear principles prevent entry; some say it's time for change

The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Maine (SSBN 741) departs Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington state in June 2021. It is expected to make a port call in South Korea this month.   © U.S. Navy

TOKYO -- In the coming days, a U.S. nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) is expected to make a port call in South Korea for the first time since 1981.

The visit was agreed upon between U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol when the two signed the so-called Washington Declaration at the White House on April 26. The aim is to enhance the "regular visibility" of strategic assets in the Korean Peninsula.

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