US-ROK Defense Ministers Meeting
U.S. Secretary of Defense Austin held talks with South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sub in Seoul on Tuesday (January 31, 2023), emphasizing that the two sides will strengthen cooperation to enhance extended deterrence against nuclear threats, trying to appease South Korea’s demand for more control over nuclear threats demands for autonomy.
The two defense ministers said in a joint statement issued after the meeting that they jointly confirmed how to enhance the measures to implement the extended deterrence of the United States, including the Nuclear Deterrence Strategy Committee to hold a demonstration of nuclear deterrence in the next month and make a response to nuclear threats. Reactive tabletop games.
The two defense ministers said that the United States recently sent strategic bombers to the Korean peninsula to participate in joint military exercises and other actions to demonstrate the US-ROK alliance’s ability to deal with nuclear threats, and promised to cooperate closely in the future and continue to deploy US strategies in a timely and coordinated manner. resource.
Before the meeting with Minister Lee Jong-sub, Minister Austin published an article in the South Korean media, saying that the extended deterrence provided by the United States to South Korea is as strong as iron armor. The opponents know that the challenge to any country of the United States and South Korea is equivalent to the challenge to the US-South Korea alliance.
Observers say this is the most robust security commitment the United States has made to South Korea in recent memory and appears to be aimed at reassuring South Korean concerns about relying on the United States for extended deterrence.
Shortly before Secretary Austin visited Seoul, Yoon said earlier this month that South Korea could demand the redeployment of U.S. nuclear weapons, or even develop its own if the security situation between South Korea and North Korea deteriorated.
Yin Xiyue later retracted those high-profile comments. The development, however, underscores South Korea’s growing concern over North Korea’s rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal and questions about the long-term defense commitment of ally the United States.
South Korea’s concerns are largely sparked by North Korea’s rapid expansion of its nuclear weapons program.
In December, after North Korea rapidly expanded its nuclear weapons program and publicly threatened to launch a nuclear strike against South Korea, Yoon said relying on the United States for extended deterrence was outdated and that South Korea needed to play a bigger role in its own defense. He also offered an alternative, saying he envisioned a new level of nuclear cooperation with shared nuclear utility.
In addition to re-establishing an extended deterrent force, the defense ministers of the US and South Korea also reached a consensus on the scale and scope of field military exercises held by the two militaries in the future, including agreeing to resume large-scale actual combat exercises this year.
The two sides also discussed the US-ROK alliance’s commitment to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region and promised to coordinate their respective Indo-Pacific strategies and explore channels for defense cooperation with Southeast Asian countries and Pacific island countries.
The United States regards China as a major threat to the regional and global security order and seeks allies such as South Korea to jointly respond to Beijing’s challenge.