US and South Korea expand joint military drill — Analysis
Two countries’ defense chiefs have decided to increase their planned exercise amid rising tensions with North Korea.
US and South Korean defense chiefs have agreed to expand their joint military exercise planned for later this year, setting the stage to deploy more of Washington’s strategic weapons on the peninsula amid increased saber-rattling in Pyongyang.
According to South Korea’s Defense Ministry statement, the drill is likely to be named Ulchi Freedom Shield. The drill will also be integrated with civil defense exercises and elevated to Seoul’s highest drill level. The Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin met with Lee Jongsup, South Korean defense minister. They also discussed strengthening the military. “deterrence posture”Their alliance “including the deployment of ballistic missile defense systems and US strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula.”
The talks came one day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned that his country’s “nuclear war deterrent”Was “fully ready”Respond to any threats. Pyongyang launched several missile tests in 2017 and could be ready to launch its first nuclear weapon testing since September 2017.
Lee and Austin “made it clear that if North Korea conducts its seventh nuclear test, despite opposition from the international community, the ROK [South Korea] and the United States will resolutely and jointly respond based on a strong combined defense posture,”The defense ministry stated.
North Korea is known for its threats against US-South Korean defense drills. They are often called rehearsals for invading the country. Kim called this week the joint drills “thug-like behavior”And they are threatening to “wipe out”Seoul, if Seoul is declared a Republic of Korea “dangerous attempt”For the North. He accused South Korea, in a speech to mark the 69th anniversary the armistice which halted Korea’s 1950-1953 Korean War war, of trying to impose their will. “suicidal confrontation”To deepen our ties “the US imperialists.”
Since Yoon Suk-yeol was elected president in May, South Korea has been trying to strengthen military ties with America. Yoon stated at that time that joint military exercises were being conducted. “key to our combined defense capability.”He has also been a proponent of the US stationing nuclear weapons in South Korea.
Seoul is seeking more US firepower, but the US wants more cooperation between South Korea, Japan. The two countries have been at odds in the past over territorial and trade issues. There has also been long-standing animosity over the Japanese aggression of 1910-1945.
At Friday’s meeting, Austin and Lee “agreed on the importance of cooperating trilaterally with Japan and enhancing regional cooperation that protects shared security and prosperity, upholds common values, and bolsters the rules-based international order,”The Pentagon made a separate statement.
Seoul and Tokyo may have had to work together more this week as South Korea held military drills close to disputed islands.