The United States will regularly deploy its strategic military assets to South Korea to better defend the Northeast Asian ally from North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, Seoul and Washington said Wednesday following joint defense cooperation talks.
The commitment was reaffirmed at the inaugural meeting of the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCS) in Washington on Tuesday (U.S. time). In a bid to step up deterrence against Pyongyang, the allies launched the dialogue process dedicated to exploring extended measures during the meeting of the two countries' foreign and defense ministers in Washington in October.
South Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam and Deputy Minister for Defense Policy Yoo Jeh-seung headed the South Korean side with Washington being represented by U.S. Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Thomas Countryman and David Shear.
"In response to North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, the officials reaffirmed the commitment of the U.S. to regularly deploy U.S. strategic assets for the defense of the Republic of Korea," the allies said in their joint statement following the talks.
They will also "enhance such measures and identify new or additional steps to strengthen deterrence," according to the statement.
Earlier in the year, the U.S. dispatched multiple B-52 strategic bombers and stealth fighter jets to South Korea in a show of force after North Korea conducted two nuclear tests in the face of strong warnings by the international community.
"The U.S. in 2016 demonstrated its commitment and resolve to the ROK by exercising extended deterrence through measures to enhance missile defense capabilities and through clear demonstration of the U.S. nuclear triad," the statement said, referring to the U.S.' nuclear-armed fighter jets, intercontinental ballistic missile and ballistic missile submarines.
In their recent discussion to guard against North Korea, "The U.S. reiterated its ironclad and unwavering commitment to draw on the full range of its military capabilities, including the nuclear umbrella, conventional strike and missile defense to provide extended deterrence for the ROK," the two sides stressed.
The U.S. also "reaffirmed the longstanding U.S. policy that any attack on the U.S. or its allies will be defeated and any use of nuclear weapons will be met with an effective and overwhelming response."
Washington emphasized that it will provide "immediate support" to South Korea in the event of an emergency.
South Korea's foreign ministry later said in a press release that such U.S. commitments will remain steadfast even after the upcoming administration change in Washington.
"Even after the Trump administration takes office, I expect the EDSCG will continue on," Vice Foreign Minister Lim told reporters in Washington following the talks. "The latest meeting played a role bridging the Obama administration with the Trump administration."
Sources said that during the latest gathering South Korea appealed for permanent deployment of U.S. strategic assets on the peninsula, but the two sides failed to reach an agreement on the point. (Yonhap)