South Korean, US defence officials visit key Army missile unit amid North Korea's threats

by IANS |

Seoul, June 11 (IANS) Senior South Korean and US defence officials visited a key Army unit overseeing missile operations on Tuesday, the defence ministry said, a day after holding nuclear deterrence talks against North Korean threats.


Cho Chang-rae, Deputy Defence Minister for Policy, and Vipin Narang, the acting US Assistant Secretary of Defence for Space Policy, toured the Missile Strategic Command at an undisclosed location after leading the allies' third Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) meeting in Seoul on Monday.


During the NCG session, the two sides discussed integrating the allies' conventional and nuclear capabilities to boost deterrence and completed a review of joint guidelines regarding their response in the event of a North Korean nuclear crisis.


"This visit took place for the first time between South Korea and the United States to confirm the South's advanced conventional capabilities that can contribute to conventional-nuclear integration -- a key task of the NCG," the ministry said.


Narang said the visit presented a good opportunity to confirm the South's conventional capabilities have made great progress and expressed support for its plan to establish a strategic command, according to the ministry.


South Korea seeks to launch the command later this year, which will serve as an overarching organ of its key military assets, such as ballistic missiles, stealth fighters and 3,000-tonne submarines.


He also reaffirmed that North Korea will face an overwhelming and decisive response if it undertakes a nuclear attack as outlined in the Washington Declaration adopted by President Yoon Suk Yeol and US President Joe Biden during their summit in April last year, it said.


A photo released by the defence ministry showed South Korean and US officials standing in front of a transporter erector launcher of an unspecified missile at the unit.


The NCG was established under the Washington Declaration as part of efforts to enhance the credibility of extended deterrence amid the North's continued push to advance its weapons programs.


Extended deterrence refers to the US commitment to using the full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear, to defend an ally.

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