Defense plan covers nuclear threat

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Defense plan covers nuclear threat

South Korea and the United States agreed for the first time, in bilateral defense dialogues in Washington, on a joint operational plan in the case of a nuclear or missile provocation by Pyongyang.

During the 7th Korea Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD) that concluded Thursday, defense officials from Seoul and Washington agreed to form a Deterrence Strategic Committee (DSC), combining two preexisting committees.

The new panel integrates the Extended Deterrence Policy Committee and the Counter Missile Capability Committee, and will set forth a new operational plan to enable Seoul and Washington to strengthen deterrence and prepare comprehensive responses to threats by North Korean weapons of mass destruction and missiles.

Korean Deputy Minister for Defense Policy Yoo Jeh-seung came to the agreement at the security dialogue, along with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs David B. Shear, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia David Helvey, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy Elaine Bunn.

The operation plan follows the principle that if there are clear signs that North Korea has fired a missile or nuclear weapon, it will destroy or intercept it.

“This is a measure taking into consideration a situation where North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat is actualized,” an official from the Korean Ministry of National Defense said on Thursday. “It is one step beyond the conceptual research level, where there will be a concrete action plan for what kind of weapons will be mobilized and how they will be used for defense.”

This includes advancing the so-called 4D concept to detect, defend, disrupt and destroy missile threats, including nuclear and biochemical warheads, a part of the comprehensive counter-missile operation plan between the Korea-U.S. alliance.

The official continued, “The operation plan will be established in the newly formed Korea-U.S. DSC. Korea and the United States already have an operation plan for how to respond to a wartime situation or in case of local provocation by North Korea. However, this will be the first time the two countries will be establishing a separate operation plan for nuclear or missile threats.”

The U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement on Wednesday that Seoul and Washington had made progress on implementing plans for a conditions-based approach to the transition of wartime operational control from the United States to Korea.

“The two sides reaffirmed their view that recent North Korean provocations, including cyberhacking and ballistic missile launches - which violate multiple UN Security Council Resolutions - threaten stability on the Korean peninsula and in the region,” the Pentagon added.

Officials here said that the controversial issue over whether to deploy the U.S-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system was not brought up during the dialogue.

BY SARAH KIM, JEONG YONG-SOO [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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