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S. Korea, US nearing completion to revise joint deterrence strategy against NK threats

By Yonhap

Published : Sept. 18, 2023 - 20:35

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Deputy Defense Minister for Policy Heo Tae-keun (right) and Cara Allison Marshall, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, pose for a photo as they attend the Korea-US Integrated Defense Dialogue at Seoul's defense ministry compound in central Seoul on Monday, in this photo provided by the ministry. (Yonhap) Deputy Defense Minister for Policy Heo Tae-keun (right) and Cara Allison Marshall, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, pose for a photo as they attend the Korea-US Integrated Defense Dialogue at Seoul's defense ministry compound in central Seoul on Monday, in this photo provided by the ministry. (Yonhap)

South Korea and the United States are nearing completion to revise their joint deterrence strategy document against North Korea's military threats, Seoul's defense officials said Monday, as the allies held regular defense talks here.

The two sides evaluated progress in the ongoing efforts to revise the "Tailored Deterrence Strategy" (TDS) during the biannual Korea-US Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD) earlier in the day, officials said, with the revision set to be complete by the end of this year.

The allies have been seeking to revise the key document -- adopted in 2013 to cope with North Korea's threats -- since late 2021 to better reflect evolving threats from the recalcitrant regime.

"Under a shared understanding, South Korea and the US aim to revise the TDS within the year," a defense official said. "There has been significant progress and we are nearing completion."

In January, the two countries' defense chiefs reaffirmed efforts to complete the TDS' revision before their regular Security Consultative Meeting this year, scheduled to take place in November in Seoul.

During KIDD, the two sides also agreed to enhance the alliance's combined defense architecture by jointly developing the planning and execution of conventional-nuclear integration efforts through the bilateral Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG), according to a joint statement.

The NCG, designed to discuss nuclear and strategic planning issues, was established through the Washington Declaration issued by Presidents Yoon Suk Yeol and Joe Biden during their White House summit in April.

Meanwhile, the US side reaffirmed its "ironclad" commitment to defend South Korea, while reiterating that any nuclear attack by North Korea against the US or its allies will result in the end of its regime, the statement said.

The allies reaffirmed their joint goal for the "complete denuclearization of North Korea" and pledged to further strengthen the combined defense posture and capabilities to deter conflict on the peninsula, it added.

They also assessed that the Ulchi Freedom Shield exercise between their militaries last month "significantly" improved their crisis management and all-out war execution capabilities, pledging to further strengthen combined exercises to stay "responsive" to the rapidly changing security environment on the Korean Peninsula, it read.

In addition, they discussed efforts for trilateral security cooperation with Japan, including a plan to operationalize a system to share North Korean missile warning data in real time by the end of this year, as reaffirmed by their leaders during their three-way summit at Camp David last month.

Deputy Defense Minister for Policy Heo Tae-keun led the South Korean side in the latest KIDD meeting, while Cara Allison Marshall, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, headed the US delegation.

Launched in 2011, KIDD is a comprehensive senior-level biannual defense meeting between the allies. The last session took place in Washington in April. (Yonhap)