South promises strong measures if North conducts nuclear test
South Korea will take "strong measures" to strengthen and expand its joint deterrence capabilities with the United States if the North carries out a new nuclear test, Seoul's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
Speaking at a regular press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Choi Young-sam said, “We are closely monitoring the possibility of further provocations, including preparations for a nuclear test at Punggye-ri, in close cooperation with the United States,” referring to the remote nuclear testing site located in the mountainous North Hamgyong Province.
In the event of a fresh nuclear test by Pyongyang, Choi stressed that Seoul “will strengthen and expand” its deterrence capabilities “based on a robust South Korea-U.S. joint defense posture, while working closely with the international community to produce a strong response by adopting a new Security Council resolution.”
That position was echoed by the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who told reporters at a press briefing in New York on Tuesday that Washington would push for additional United Nations sanctions on North Korea should Pyongyang ignore international warnings and conduct a nuclear test.
The U.S. ambassador’s remarks come after the Security Council failed to pass a U.S.-led sanctions resolution on North Korea last week. It was vetoed by permanent council members China and Russia.
“First of all, we need to enforce the sanctions that we already have the authority to enforce,” the U.S. diplomat told reporters in New York, according to AFP.
She added that the U.S. would “certainly” push for additional sanctions when asked if the Washington would push for a new sanctions resolution if Pyongyang goes ahead with a nuclear test.
Pyongyang has conducted six nuclear tests to date, and U.S. and South Korean intelligence have pointed to recent satellite images of ongoing tunnel excavation and construction work at Punggye-ri as signs that the regime is preparing to conduct a seventh test.
Despite the warnings from Seoul and Washington, Pyongyang has given little indication that it is considering scaling back tensions, which it has escalated with 17 missile tests this year alone.
The North has also blasted closer security ties between South Korea and the United States.
The regime broke its ten-day silence on U.S. President Joe Biden’s May 20-22 visit to South Korea by issuing a denunciation of the post-summit joint statement issued by Biden and President Yoon Suk-yeol through a propaganda outlet on Wednesday
Issued by an anti-Seoul outlet called the Echo of Unification, the editorial referred to the joint statement as "the worst declaration of ruin by treachery, submission, and ignorance” in its headline.
“It is the worst declaration of ruin of all time, surpassing all of the unequal treaties in the dark history of relations between South Korea and the United States,” the editorial opined.
The editorial appeared to take aim at various initiatives agreed upon by Biden and Yoon during their meeting, including the revival of the U.S.-Korea Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG), the deployment of additional U.S. strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula, and the expansion of joint military exercises between South Korea and the U.S.
The EDSCG, established by the U.S.-Korea Foreign and Defense Ministers’ meeting on Oct. 19, 2016, was intended to serve as a channel for the allies to hold in-depth discussions on strategic and policy issues regarding extended deterrence against North Korea, including how to better leverage the full breadth of the two countries’ national power, including diplomacy, information, military and economic capabilities.
The EDSCG has not met since its second meeting, in 2018, and political analysts have attributed the group’s dormancy to renewed attempts by Seoul to achieve rapprochement with Pyongyang under the administration of former President Moon Jae-in.
The North has bristled at news of the EDSCG’s meetings, calling the first conference in 2016 “a provocative action that worsens tensions over the Korean Peninsula and escalates the danger of nuclear war.”
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]