US, South Korea to hold nuclear tabletop drill over North’s military threats

Seoul, Jan 11 (EFE).- The United States and South Korea will hold a military tabletop exercise in February in response to nuclear threats from the North, the South Korean defense ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry has sent a report to President Yoon Suk-yeol on the country’s defense planning this year.

Among the priorities is a tabletop exercise in the US in the second half of February, as agreed by the two countries during a defense ministerial meeting in November last year.

The tabletop drill involves discussions and debates on coordinated responses in case of a nuclear attack from North Korea.

South Korea and Washington have been conducting tabletop drills for over a decade.

But it is the first time discussions would involve a scenario of North Korea using nuclear weapons, an anonymous military official told Yonhap news agency.

The hypothetical scenario has occupied South Korean media for the past few days after President Yoon said his country was in talks with the US for joint nuclear exercises in response to North’s growing military threats.

“The nuclear weapons belong to the US, but information sharing, planning, and training must be jointly conducted by South Korea and the United States,” Yoon said in a media interview.

The defense plan for 2023 includes an 11-day spring exercise called “Freedom Shield” without a break.

Weekend breaks were allowed until now during the drill.

The allies also plan some 20 large-scale military exercises in the first half of 2023.

South Korea’s army also hopes to launch its first military surveillance and reconnaissance satellite this year.

The army is also eying a third and final test of its solid-fuel space rocket, which Seoul plans to use to improve and expand its reconnaissance satellite network.

Seoul aims to launch four reconnaissance satellites before 2025.

The military plan reflects growing tension on the peninsula after North Korea conducted a record number of weapon tests last year.

South Korea and the US resumed large-scale military exercises last year amid escalating unease in the region. EFE


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