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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

South Korea, U.S. strengthen deterrence against North amid weapons deal concerns

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Foreign Minister Park Jin, center, poses with participants in Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group talks at the ministry’s headquarters in central Seoul on Friday. [MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS]
Foreign Minister Park Jin, center, poses with participants in Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group talks at the ministry’s headquarters in central Seoul on Friday. [MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS]

South Korea and the United States vowed to elevate their deterrence against North Korea, the allies announced in a joint statement after defense talks Friday.

The statement comes amid growing concerns about a possible weapons deal between Pyongyang and Moscow following North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s recent meeting.

The announcement was the outcome of the fourth meeting of the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (Edscg) in Seoul, a regular gathering of vice-ministerial defense officials and diplomats.

“The United States and the Republic of Korea reviewed their ongoing bilateral cooperation to deter DPRK nuclear and non-nuclear aggression and thus to enhance security on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, and discussed various measures to further strengthen the Alliance’s deterrence and defense posture,” the Foreign Ministry said in its statement Friday, referring to the North by the acronym of its full name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

While the two allies reaffirmed their existing commitment to pursue the North’s denuclearization, their renewed focus will include a wider range of the North’s illicit activities.

“The two sides agreed to further enhance coordination to address DPRK sanctions evasion and illicit cyber activities, using diplomatic, informational, military, and economic tools,” they said.

The statement also warned Pyongyang that “third party” protection will not weaken Washington’s security commitment to Seoul.

“In the context of mounting DPRK threats to regional stability, in part facilitated by third parties’ shielding of the DPRK from consequences for its brazen UNSCR [UN Security Council resolutions] violations, the United States underlined its ironclad and unwavering security commitment to the Republic of Korea, using the full range of U.S. defense capabilities, including nuclear, conventional, missile defense, and other advanced non-nuclear capabilities, to provide extended deterrence for the ROK,” it read.

The Edsgc was re-established following a summit between President Yoon Suk Yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden in Seoul in May 2022.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]