The United States and South Korea this week are reviewing their strategy for deterring North Korean nuclear attacks, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
Last fall, Seoul and Washington concluded a new bilateral extended-deterrence plan designed to enhance the U.S. nuclear umbrella over South Korea. The plan encompasses military, diplomatic and political responses that could be used to respond to a variety of unconventional threats coming from the North. The meetings this week will focus on plan implementation.
On Tuesday and Wednesday at the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii, officials from the two allies' Extended Deterrence Policy Committee will stage their third theoretical exercise on responding to North Korean threats. David Helvey, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of Defense for East Asia, and Elaine Bunn, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, will take part in the discussions with South Korean Deputy Defense Minister Ryu Se-seung.
"At this exercise, the allies will discuss the tailored deterrence strategy and how to apply extended deterrence policy to handle [the] threat posed by North Korea's nuclear program and weapons of mass destruction," the South Korean Defense Ministry said in released comments.
Pyongyang on Tuesday lashed out at Seoul for its "confrontational acts" and said it was up to the South to foster a climate for better bilateral relations, Yonhap reported separately.
"The improvement of inter-Korean relations is crucial to deal with reunification matters from our perspective," the North Korean regime said in an editorial published by its propaganda paper, the Rodong Shinmun.
A former senior Obama administration official said it is time for Washington to hold talks with Beijing and Seoul on responding to various contingencies in North Korea.
"My own view is that the U.S., South Korea and China need to be talking about future scenarios in the Korean Peninsula, including instability in North Korea," said Jeffrey Bader, a former National Security Council senior director for East Asian affairs, in an interview with Yonhap.
Following the unexpected December purge and execution of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un's powerful uncle, concerns have arisen in South Korea and the United States that the Kim regime may not be as solid as was formerly thought. Bader and others increasingly are urging Washington to discuss with Beijing the sensitive matter of how to split responsibilities in the event of a regime failure in the North, with an eye toward avoiding any misunderstandings between the two major powers.