Pyongyang’s nuclear delusionYesterday’s 45th ROK-U.S. Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul carried unique significance as both allies agreed to step up joint efforts to effectively cope with the mounting threats from North Korea’s nuclear and chemical weapons. The North is expected to deploy nuclear weapons in the field soon - eight months after a third nuclear test in February.
South Korea and the United States have declared they are capable of concocting concrete ways to prevent any potential use of nuclear weapons by the recalcitrant regime in Pyongyang. The capability can be called a “tailored strategy to tightly prepare for the North’s nuclear and WMD threats.” After both sides advanced the timetable for such sophisticated capabilities by a year, the North’s nuclear development can hardly serve as a practical means to threaten the South anymore.
South Korea cannot but rely on America for the extended deterrence until it can fully develop what President Park Geun-hye emphatically called for in a speech to celebrate the 65th birthday of the ROK Armed Forces: a “kill chain,” which is aimed at launching a pre-emptive strike on the North’s asymmetric warfare capabilities, and KAMD, the Korean low-altitude air and missile network to effectively deter Pyongyang’s nuclear capability.
Yet, both allies’ agreement carries great strategic implications as a declaration that Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program will be useless. They sent a strong message that North Korea will end up nowhere if it blindly adheres to nuclear ambition. Both allies have put pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program and develop its comatose economy. Seoul and Washington have urged Pyongyang to sincerely return to negotiations.
In the security meeting, both sides also stressed the strategic importance of the Northern Limit Line - a de facto maritime border in the Yellow Sea - and urged North Korea to respect it. At the same time, they decided to reinforce joint efforts to prepare for potential small-scale provocations to safeguard the tense border, underscoring a will to protect the NLL frequented by the North’s provocations over the last decade. Their commitment will substantially curb additional provocations by the North in the sea.
To sum up, Seoul and Washington have drawn up even more detailed plans to deter the North from aggression than ever before. Their next job will be exerting diplomatic efforts to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiation table for denuclearization. We urge it to wake its increasingly hopeless nuclear delusion.