The protection chiefs for the 2 international locations have agreed to enlarge their deliberate train amid rising tensions with North Korea
US and South Korean protection chiefs have agreed to broaden their joint navy train deliberate for later this 12 months, setting the stage to deploy extra of Washington’s strategic weapons on the peninsula amid elevated saber-rattling in Pyongyang.
The drill, prone to be referred to as Ulchi Freedom Protect, can be built-in with a civil protection train and upgraded to what Seoul considers its highest stage of drill, in line with a assertion by the South Korean Protection Ministry. Assembly on Friday in Washington, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and South Korean Protection Minister Lee Jong-sup additionally agreed to strengthen the “deterrence posture” of their alliance, “together with the deployment of ballistic missile protection methods and US strategic belongings to the Korean Peninsula.”
The talks got here at some point after North Korean chief Kim Jong-un warned that his nation’s “nuclear warfare deterrent” was “totally prepared” to answer threats. Pyongyang has launched a slew of missile checks this 12 months and could also be poised to conduct its first nuclear weapon take a look at since September 2017.
Lee and Austin “made it clear that if North Korea conducts its seventh nuclear take a look at, regardless of opposition from the worldwide neighborhood, the ROK [South Korea] and the US will resolutely and collectively reply primarily based on a robust mixed protection posture,” the protection ministry mentioned.
North Korea has lengthy issued threats over US-South Korean protection drills, calling them rehearsals for invasion. This week, Kim referred to as the joint drills “thug-like habits” and threatened to “wipe out” Seoul if the ROK makes any “harmful try” in opposition to the North. In a speech marking the 69th anniversary of the armistice that halted the 1950-1953 Korean Conflict, he accused South Korea of looking for a “suicidal confrontation” to deepen ties with “the US imperialists.”
South Korea has sought to deepen navy ties with the US since newly elected President Yoon Suk-yeol took workplace in Might. Yoon mentioned on the time that joint navy drills have been “key to our mixed protection functionality.” The brand new president additionally has been an advocate for stationing US nuclear weapons in South Korea.
Whereas Seoul has sought extra firepower from Washington, the US has pushed for extra cooperation between South Korea and Japan, which have clashed in recent times over commerce and territorial points, in addition to longstanding vitriol over atrocities through the 1910-1945 Japanese occupation of the peninsula.
At Friday’s assembly, Austin and Lee “agreed on the significance of cooperating trilaterally with Japan and enhancing regional cooperation that protects shared safety and prosperity, upholds widespread values, and bolsters the rules-based worldwide order,” the Pentagon mentioned in a separate assertion.
The Seoul-Tokyo relationship might have been strained additional this week, when South Korea performed navy drills close to disputed islands between the international locations.