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The South Korea-US Special Measures Agreement: An Overview

The United States and South Korea reached a new agreement on the Special Measures Agreement (SMA) on February 10, 2019, resolving a long-standing dispute about cost sharing for the US military stationed in South Korea. The agreement was signed by the US Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, Stephen Biegun, and the South Korean Foreign Minister, Kang Kyung-wha.

The SMA is designed to promote mutual defense and security for both nations, providing a framework for sharing the costs of US military personnel and equipment stationed in South Korea. The previous agreement expired at the end of 2018, and negotiations over a new SMA had been ongoing for several months.

Under the new agreement, South Korea will contribute approximately $920 million per year toward the cost of hosting US troops, an increase of about 8% from the previous agreement. The funds will be used to cover expenses such as construction and maintenance of military facilities, logistical support, and training for South Korean and US military personnel.

The agreement also includes provisions for regular consultations between the two nations regarding the cost sharing arrangements, as well as measures aimed at enhancing transparency and accountability in the process. Both nations have expressed satisfaction with the new agreement, which they believe will provide a stable and predictable framework for US-South Korea security cooperation.

The agreement comes at a time of increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea`s nuclear and ballistic missile programs posing a potential threat to regional stability. The presence of US military in South Korea is seen as a critical part of deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea.

The SMA is also significant in the broader context of US foreign policy, as it serves as a model for similar agreements with other nations where US military personnel are stationed. As such, the successful negotiation of the SMA demonstrates the importance of strong partnerships and diplomacy in promoting global security and stability.

Overall, the new SMA represents an important milestone in the US-South Korea alliance, ensuring that both nations can work together effectively to promote mutual defense and security in the region. As the global security landscape continues to evolve, the SMA will remain a vital tool for maintaining peace and stability in one of the most important regions of the world.