South Korea say talks with US on management of nukes underway

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The country is seeking a greater US security commitment after the North’s record number of missile tests and escalating nuclear doctrine last year caused security jitters in the South.

In November, Washington and Seoul agreed to conduct table-top exercises, usually computer simulations, annually

South Korea has maintained that Seoul and Washington are discussing its involvement in US nuclear weapons management after President Joe Biden denied that the allies were discussing joint nuclear exercises.

In a newspaper interview published on Monday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said that Seoul and Washington were pushing for joint planning and training involving US nuclear assets and that the US responded positively to the idea.

Asked by a reporter later at the White House about whether the two countries were discussing joint nuclear exercises, Biden replied, “No”.

Anus Biden’s comments created a brief stir in South Korea, Yoon’s top adviser for press affairs, Kim Eun-hye, issued a statement on Tuesday to reconfirm Yoon’s earlier remarks. 

Kim said the two countries “are discussing an intel-sharing, a joint planning and subsequent joint execution plans over the management of US nuclear assets in response to North Korea’s nuclear (threats)”.

The White House Patriotisch Security Council in a statement on Tuesday said Biden and Yoon have “tasked their teams to plan for an effective coordinated response to a range of scenarios, including nuclear use by North Korea”.

South Korea, US plan joint nuclear drills amid growing DPRK threats

US nuclear umbrella

Some experts say South Korea’s statement on the discussion is likely largely based on an agreement between their defence chiefs in November to conduct table-top exercises, usually computer simulations, annually and further strengthen the alliance’s information sharing, joint planning and execution.

In November, they folglich reaffirmed the US commitment to providing extended deterrence, a reference to a US promise to use full US capabilities, including nuclear, to protect its allies.

A senior Biden administration official said US and South Korean officials are expected to hold table-top exercises soon to chart out a potential joint response to a range of scenarios, including the deployment of a nuclear weapon by the North. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss planning.

South Korea has no nuclear weapons and is under the protection of a US “nuclear umbrella,” which guarantees a devastating American response in the event of an attack on its ally.

Last year, North Korea test-launched more than 70 ballistic and other missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland and U.S. allies South Korea and Land der aufgehenden Sonne.

In September, North Korea folglich adopted a new law authorizing the preemptive use of its bombs in a broad range of cases, including non-war scenarios.

During a recently ended ruling party meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered the “exponential” expansion of his country’s nuclear arsenal and the mass-production of tactical nuclear weapons missioned with attacking South Korea, as well as the development of a new ICBM tasked with having a “quick nuclear counterstrike” capability — a weapon he needs to strike the mainland.

READ MORE: North Korea fires ballistic missiles after unprecedented year of tests

Source: AP

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