US pledges to enhance extended deterrence against North Korea
Seoul, Jan 31 (EFE).- United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin pledged on Tuesday to enhance the implementation of his country’s extended deterrence commitment to South Korea to counter the North Korean threat through close cooperation, deployment of strategic assets and trilateral cooperation with Japan.
“Our commitment to the defense of the ROK (South Korea’s official name) remains ironclad, and the United States stands firm in its extended deterrence commitment,” Austin said at a joint press conference with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Jong-sup after their meeting on the second day of his visit to South Korea.
“That includes the full range of US defense capabilities, including our conventional, nuclear and missile defense capabilities. Now, we have 28,500 uniformed personnel in South Korea…This shows our unwavering commitment,” he added.
Austin also referred to the trilateral security cooperation between the US, South Korea and Japan, stressing that it “enhances all of our security.”
For his part, Lee said that both countries “strongly condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) continued provocations and violations of United Nations Security Council resolution.”
The US-South Korea alliance, along with the international community, “will continue to take a strong stance against any further provocations,” he added, according to a joint statement posted on the US department of defense’s website.
The two leaders said that “both nations will continue to bolster the alliance’s capabilities to deter and respond to DPRK nuclear and missile threats, as well as to enhance information sharing, joint planning and execution, and alliance consultation mechanisms.”
Seoul and Washington will hold a Deterrence Strategy Committee Table-top Exercise in February to facilitate the alliance’s discussion on deterrence and response options to deal with the North Korean nuclear threat, the statement added.
The US official also reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
“The US and the ROK are committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and we’ve long been that way,” he said.
The meeting between the two defense officials comes after a year in which North Korea has carried out a record number of missile tests, around 50, and tensions in the Korean peninsula have reached new heights. EFE