The U.S. has decided to respond with nuclear weapons if North Korea uses not only nuclear weapons but also comparable weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
“The United States and the ROK made clear that any DPRK nuclear attack would be met with an overwhelming and decisive response,” South Korea and the U.S. announced in a joint statement adopted at a meeting of the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultative Group (EDSCG) on Friday (local time), which was attended by vice ministers of foreign affairs and defense.
A senior member of the South Korean government said the statement implies that we will take clear deterrence actions in case of North Korea’s use of nuclear or other comparable weapons. The U.S. made it clear that North Korea’s use of WMDs, such as biochemical weapons, is also subject to the country’s provision of a nuclear umbrella to South Korea and will trigger irreversible damage to the North. The nuclear umbrella provided by the U.S. to South Korea is referred to as extended deterrence.
“The United States is committed to strengthening coordination with the ROK to continue to deploy and exercise strategic assets in the region in a timely and effective manner to deter and respond to the DPRK and enhance regional security,” said the U.S. in the joint statement. It was announced that South Korea and the U.S. would carry out a joint exercise in the East Sea after the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan enters a port in Busan later this week. This is the first time since November 2017 that a U.S. fleet of aircraft carriers participates in a combined training exercise with the South Korean military.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said in an interview with the New York Times on Sunday that Seoul and Washington were prepared to bring “a package of all possible means and methods,” including the American nuclear umbrella, to bear on North Korea to avoid a war. “Extended deterrence includes not only the use of nuclear weapons based in American territory, but also a package of all possible means and methods to deter nuclear provocations by North Korea,” the president emphasized.