SEOUL: South Korea and the United States (US) have mapped out a new strategy to counter the growing threat of a North Korean nuclear or chemical weapons attack, their defense ministers said on Wednesday.
They also agreed to review the sensitive issue of when Seoul should assume operational wartime command over their combined forces in South Korea. Visiting US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the new pact signed with his South Korean counterpart Kim Kwan-jin established a “strategic framework” for dealing with “key North Korean nuclear threat scenarios” in the wake of its third atomic test in February.
Although neither side provided details, Kim said the plan—which is certain to be condemned by North Korea—would “greatly enhance” the alliance’s deterrence capacity.
Observers said it was largely a confidence-building measure to underline Washington’s support for Seoul against any provocation from Pyongyang.
South Korea is protected by the US nuclear umbrella and there are currently nearly 30,000 US troops stationed in the country.