Seoul, Washington sign TOF on joint security plan

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Seoul, Washington sign TOF on joint security plan

South Korea and the United States signed a terms of reference (TOF) yesterday on a new joint security committee to better deal with North Korea’s nuclear threat and other weapons of mass destruction, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday.

The signing, accomplished during the Security Policy Initiative (SPI) meeting in Seoul, is a step closer to institutionalizing the Extended Deterrence Policy Committee. It will be the first time the U.S. forms such a committee with a non-NATO country.

Deputy Defense Minister Chang Kwang-il and Michael Schiffer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific security affairs, are presiding over the SPI meeting and signed the terms of reference, the ministry said.

“The committee is aimed at [counteracting] North Korea’s threat of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction,” said a ministry official.

The official added that the committee is also aimed at expanding the scope of information the two countries share and monitoring the efficacy of extended deterrence on a regular basis.

Within the partnership, the U.S. can provide South Korea with tactical nuclear weapons, conventional-strike and missile-defense capabilities to defend against an attack from North Korea.

Seoul and Washington agreed to form the committee when the defense ministers from two countries gathered for the annual Security Consultative Meeting on Oct. 8 in Washington. The committee will put it into full operation next year, the ministry said.

“It will be held twice annually, but if needed, we will hold additional meetings,” said the ministry official.

Chang and Schiffer will be the representatives, he said.

Meanwhile, during the SPI meeting, the two sides also reaffirmed that the principle of the Seoul-Washington alliance is to sternly and strongly respond to another hostile provocation by the North.

The SPI has held meetings since 2005.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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