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US and South Korean nuclear envoys downplay Seoul’s nuclear intentions

South Korea’s top nuclear envoy says an agreement with the United States to jointly strengthen “extended deterrence” against North Korea will give the Yoon administration the confidence it needs that the alliance can effectively defend against North Korean aggression. said.

The US commitments announced by the two countries in a joint statement in mid-September included confirmation that North Korea’s nuclear test “will be met with an overwhelming and decisive response.”

It added that the two countries “will continue and strengthen close alliance consultations on U.S. nuclear and missile defense policy.”

South Korea’s special representative for peace and security issues on the Korean Peninsula, Kim Gang, reiterated South Korean President Yoon Seok’s recent statements in an interview with Washington Talk on Friday.

File – Kim Sung, Special Representative for North Korea (left), Takehiro Funakoshi, Director-General, Japan Bureau, Asia and Oceania Bureau (middle), Kim Gang, Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea

“The president made it very clear in a recent interview that he is confident in the extended deterrence of the United States,” he said. “We are coordinating very closely [with the U.S.] On how to enhance the effectiveness of extended deterrence.”

On January 11, Yoon drew widespread attention by suggesting that Seoul could respond to the North Korean nuclear threat by either building its own nuclear weapons or redeploying US strategic assets to South Korea. I got

His remarks come amid growing concerns among South Koreans over the US commitment to defending their country from the growing North Korean threat. However, Kim Gang said in Washington Talk that the alliance’s focus on strengthening extended deterrence should allay public concerns.

US Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim, who appeared on the program with Kim Gang, also appeared to downplay speculation that South Korea was considering developing its own nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction.

“President Yoon said that South Korea has no interest in pursuing a weapons of mass destruction program and instead has been very active with us at all levels to ensure that our defense and deterrence are as strong as they need to be. “We are working closely together,” he said.

ROK is an abbreviation for the Republic of Korea, the official name of South Korea.

The U.S. ambassador continued, “That would include having a very serious dialogue on how to strengthen extended deterrence, including examining the frequency and intensity of U.S. strategic deployments on the peninsula. .”

Strengthening extended deterrence

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-seop discussed ways to expand intelligence-sharing and prevent North Korea from using its nuclear weapons through tabletop exercises scheduled for later this year during a meeting in Seoul on January 31. They agreed to strengthen deterrence measures, including how to respond. Month.

According to South Korea’s Ministry of Defense, the United States announced on Feb. 1 that it will deploy a range of U.S. B-1B long-range strategic bombers and stealth fighters with South Korea to demonstrate its ability to provide “credible extended deterrence against North Korea.” conducted joint military exercises.

In response, North Korea released a statement on Thursday saying the combined exercise had “reached an extreme red line”. It pledged to “take the toughest response to any military attempt by the United States, based on the principle of ‘nuclear for nuclear, total confrontation for total confrontation’.”

At the same time, North Korea denied the possibility of dialogue.

North Korea launched more than 90 ballistic and cruise missiles last year, including several intercontinental ballistic missiles. In September, it codified into law the right to use nuclear weapons preemptively against a threat it deems imminent.

diplomatic outreach

The two envoys said North Korea has largely dismissed calls for dialogue from its own country despite efforts to engage with the DPRK.

“I can assure you that we have sent multiple messages to Pyongyang through various channels, including the one in New York,” Sung Kim said. The New York Channel is North Korea’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

He went on to say, “Unfortunately, the North Korean people have shown no interest in diplomatic engagement with us, but that our position has not changed, we can actually talk to them without preconditions.” We will continue to remind ourselves that we are willing to do so.”

“I think it’s clear that North Korea is not heeding calls for dialogue,” Kim Gang said.

Despite North Korea’s lack of interest in getting involved in the talks, the two ambassadors said the US and South Korean policies of calling for North Korea’s denuclearization have not changed.

When asked if he thought denuclearization would be possible without changing the Kim Jong-un-led government, Sung Kim said yes.

That is why our goal remains the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” he continued.

China and Russia

Song Kim, who is also the US ambassador to Indonesia, said China and Russia share the goal of denuclearization, but stressed that neither country has committed to that goal.

“They have a responsibility to faithfully implement UN Security Council resolutions,” he said. “And we have seen a lot of information suggesting that both Russia and China are helping North Korea evade sanctions.”

The official name of North Korea is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

On May 26, China and Russia blocked a U.S.-drafted UN Security Council resolution calling for tougher sanctions against North Korea in response to new ballistic missile tests, including an intercontinental ballistic missile launched the day before.

According to US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas Greenfield, again on Nov. 4, China and Russia blocked UN action against North Korea by offering it “total protection.” The statement came a day after North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that apparently failed.

Kim Gang emphasized the importance of China’s role in persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

Despite China’s increasingly active role in the region, South Korea’s Indo-Pacific strategy announced in December described China as a “key partner.” Asked about his country’s reasons on the Washington talk show, South Korea’s ambassador said, “China must be a partner in persuading North Korea to give up.” [its] nuclear weapons. “

human rights

Also on the show, Sung Kim praised President Joe Biden for appointing longtime State Department official Julie Turner as North Korea’s special envoy for human rights on January 23. The position has been held for the past 6 years. There are vacancies throughout the year.

“The signal it sends is to demonstrate [Biden’s] Knowing that the human rights situation in North Korea is still very troublesome, we have a strong commitment to improve the lives of the North Korean people.

The Biden administration has maintained that human rights issues are at the center of its foreign policy since it took office in January 2021.

https://www.voanews.com/a/nuclear-envoys-of-us-south-korea-downplay-seoul-s-nuclear-intent/6947817.html US and South Korean nuclear envoys downplay Seoul’s nuclear intentions

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