The recent series of North Korea’s threats was described as “an extraordinary threat to the region and which demands our continued vigilance” by a senior U.S. defense official, who, in turn, implied a deployment of strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula and the resumption of joint military drills between the United States and South Korea. By contrast, the South Korean Defense Ministry maintained a restrained stance on military pressure on North Korea.
David Helvey, the U.S. acting assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, said on Thursday (local time) in a telephone meeting that North Korea is one of the trickiest targets to aim at. “I do think that it's important to say that we remain vigilant against any types of threats and provocations,” he said. As for strategic weapons and U.S.-R.O.K. joint military exercises, the high-ranking U.S. official answered, “I don't want to get ahead of any future decisions that would be made, but this is one of the things that we are constantly talking to our South Korean allies about to ensure that we, as an alliance, are presenting the most effective combined deterrence and defense capability for the people in South Korea.”
A South Korean military official explained that Helvey’s remarks only touched upon basic principles, which indicates that Seoul agrees with Washington generally to the need for stringent countermeasure against North Korea’s provocations amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula but thinks that their pace of reaction should be dependent on a next military action that Pyongyang may take. The two allies are expected to discuss combined defense readiness at a video conference between the U.S. and South Korean defense ministers on Thursday at earliest.
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