|South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin sign the revised document of the “Tailored Deterrence Strategy (TDS)” on North Korea during a ceremony held on the sidelines of the 55th Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) held at the defense ministry in Seoul on Nov. 13, 2023. /Source: The Ministry of National Defense|
AsiaToday reporters Lee Seok-jong
South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin presented Monday three key pillars as a blueprint to prepare for the 100th anniversary of the ROK-U.S. alliance in 2053: improving extended deterrence efforts against North Korea, modernizing alliance capabilities through evolution into a science and technology alliance, and strengthening solidarity and regional security cooperation with Japan and other like-minded countries.
The defense chiefs of South Korea and the United States adopted a document titled “Defense Vision of the U.S.-ROK Alliance” during the 55th session of the annual Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul, in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the bilateral alliance.
The two sides defined North Korea as the most fundamental and urgent threat between South Korea and the U.S. in the defense vision. In particular, the two reaffirmed the “importance of deterring strategic attacks and aggression from hostile actors in the region, including North Korea, through continued extended deterrence efforts,” and stressed the “Alliance intends to work to enable joint execution and planning for South Korea’s conventional support to U.S. nuclear operations in a contingency to enhance the integrity of deterrence capabilities against the North.”
“The revised Tailored Deterrence Strategy (TDS) should inform the Alliance’s mutual approach to deterrence and provide a stronger and more flexible strategic framework to deter the North,” the two sides said. “The Alliance also intends to increase the scale and scope of combined exercises and training, including combined joint live-fire exercises, to demonstrate combined defense capabilities and readiness.”
Separately, the two sides issued a joint statement containing the result of the 55th Security Consultative Meeting. In the statement, the two sides strongly condemned North Korea’s multiple missile launches, including ballistic missiles, its attempted launch of a North Korea-claimed “Space Launch Vehicle,” and Russian-North Korea arms trade as clear violations of existing UN Security Council Resolutions.
In particular, Secretary Austin expressed concern about North Korea’s attempts to develop various nuclear weapons and projectiles, and reiterated the firm U.S. commitment to provide extended deterrence to South Korea, utilizing the full range of U.S. defense capabilities, including nuclear, conventional, missile defense, and advanced non-nuclear capabilities. He also warned that any nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its Allies and partners is unacceptable and will result in the end of the Kim regime.
In response, Minister Shin said in a joint press conference, “If North Korea provokes a war, their regime will disappear and there will follow unification based on a liberal-democratic order under the Republic of Korea.”
In addition, the secretary and the minister agreed to pursue expanded cooperation of the U.S. Shared Early Warning System (SEWS) to enhance the alliance’s detection capabilities against advanced North Korean missile threats. They also pledged to expand the trilateral security cooperation with Japan by activating a real-time data sharing mechanism for North Korea’s missile launches next month and conduct joint drills in a systematic manner from next year.