The US allowed the use of nuclear weapons to contain North Korea. This was stated by Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin during a visit to Seoul.
“In 2022, we faced an unprecedented number of provocations from the DPRK. So rest assured that the United States remains united with the Republic of Korea, we jointly condemn these dangerous actions that go against international law and are fraught with destabilization of the situation in the region”, Austin emphasized.
Washington’s commitment to protecting the South Korean ally “remains unwavering,” he said.
“The United States is committed to fulfilling its obligations on extended deterrence, which implies the use of the full range of defense capabilities, including our conventional and nuclear forces, as well as missile defense capabilities,” the American secretary said.
Austin also recalled that 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea, who work together with their South Korean counterparts.
“This is one of the largest US contingents in the world,” the head of the Pentagon stressed.
He said that Washington and Seoul have increased the level of “joint readiness and preparation” and expanded the “scope and scope” of the two countries’ exercises.
“In February, the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Korea and the US Department of Defense will organize a theoretical exercise (led by. – RT ) of the deterrence strategy committee to facilitate discussions within the alliance of deterrence and response options in relation to the nuclear threat of the DPRK,” Austin and Defense Minister of South Korea Lee Jong-sub.
The head of the Pentagon held talks with his South Korean counterpart on January 31. In addition to the exercises, the parties discussed the extended containment of the DPRK and other security issues, in particular, they agreed to hold tripartite talks with the participation of Japan to discuss specific measures to strengthen cooperation in the military sphere.
“The two leaders agreed to follow up on concrete action plans to facilitate trilateral exchange of missile launch data in accordance with the agreements reached by the three leaders in 2022 at the Phnom Penh summit,” the two ministers said in a joint statement.
As noted, the United States and South Korea will continue to build the capacity of the alliance of the two countries in the field of deterring and responding to nuclear and missile threats from the DPRK, as well as improve information exchange, “joint planning and execution of tasks, as well as the work of the alliance’s consultation mechanisms.”
In addition, the parties strongly condemned the actions of the DPRK, including missile launches, calling them “provocations.”
“They also stated that the alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States, along with the international community, will continue to take a strong stand against any further provocations by the DPRK,” Austin and Lee Jong Sub said in a statement.
“Asian version of NATO”
Recall that in the fall of 2022, the DPRK conducted numerous missile launches in response to large-scale joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States. This was reported by the North Korean Central News Agency with reference to the report of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army. As specified, the maneuvers of Seoul and Washington were directed against the DPRK. Pyongyang also said that the next steps for any provocation against North Korea would be even more decisive.
The United States condemned the North Korean launches. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan called them “provocations” and said that they could lead to an increase in the US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region (APR).
In turn, Anna Evstigneeva, Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, said that the DPRK “naturally reacts” with missile tests to the large-scale exercises of the United States and its allies in the region. She named Washington’s desire to force Pyongyang to unilateral disarmament through sanctions pressure as one of the reasons for the launch of missiles by the DPRK.
In early December, the US Treasury expanded the list of restrictions on North Korea. According to media reports, two enterprises associated with sanctioned individuals fell under the restrictions.
In addition, the United States announced that it intends to strengthen its ability to ensure the nuclear security of Japan and South Korea. As Jake Sullivan clarified, Washington shares the concerns of the allies regarding developments in East Asia and the Indo-Pacific region, which allegedly require even more strategic deterrence efforts from the United States.
As the head of the DPRK, Kim Jong-un, later stated, the United States, under the guise of cooperation with South Korea and Japan, is creating an “Asian version of NATO.” This is reported by the Central News Agency of Korea (KCNA). As the North Korean leader noted, since 2022, Washington has been increasing the degree of military pressure on Pyongyang by introducing nuclear strike weapons into South Korea at the level of permanent deployment.
As Yevgeny Kim, a leading researcher at the Center for Korean Studies at the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences, noted in an interview with RT, Washington’s recent actions in the framework of cooperation with Seoul and Tokyo once again prove that the United States continues to engage in “planned expansion” of the Asia-Pacific region.
“This process is also accompanied by the involvement of the Asia-Pacific countries in the NATO orbit. This activity – the US tactic of discrediting and intimidating North Korea – is leading to an aggravation of the situation in the region, ”Kim said.
However, in the formation of trilateral cooperation between the United States and South Korea and Japan, Washington may have difficulties, the expert believes.
“The problem is that a large part of the Japanese population opposes an alliance with South Korea. Approximately the same situation is observed among the South Koreans. The United States will have to overcome the resistance of the people of these two countries. Whether they will be able to do this is a big question”, Kim said.
At the same time, according to him, Washington’s rhetoric about alleged “provocations” by North Korea is not true.
“It’s interesting when the United States conducts joint exercises with South Korea every year and uses powerful strategic weapons – how is that? And moreover, during these maneuvers, methods of striking at North Korea are being worked out. Is this not a provocation? Kim noted.
In turn, Konstantin Blokhin, a researcher at the Center for Security Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, stressed that the statements of the head of the Pentagon in Seoul regarding the DPRK are nothing more than an attempt to exert information and psychological pressure on Pyongyang.
“If the Americans wanted to use a nuclear bomb against North Korea, they would have done it long ago. But Washington is afraid that Pyongyang will retaliate, and in a strong and painful way, for example, through a strike on US allies – South Korea or Japan, as well as American bases in the region. The Americans will not be able to protect themselves and their allies, therefore, as a result, irreparable damage will be done to the image of the United States as a guarantor of security for its allies in the Asia-Pacific region”, the analyst explained.
Blokhin also believes that the “synchronization of actions” of the United States with South Korea and Japan is directed not only against the DPRK, but also against China.
“The North Korean case is a headache for the United States, but in this case it is also used as a pretext to mask the true goals and objectives of creating a new bloc system in the Asia-Pacific region directed against China, a kind of Asian NATO. Washington is trying to increase the number of potential partners who are aggressively disposed against China. But this will not bring anything good from the point of view of peace, stability and prosperity to the region, but will only accelerate the arms race”, the expert believes.
Blokhin named another goal of Washington in the Asia-Pacific region – countering Russia.
“However, the actions of the United States cannot prevent the turn of the Russian Federation to the East, the American authorities cannot stop this. North Korea plays an important role in this process along with China and India,” the analyst said.
As Yevgeny Kim, in turn, noted, the recent statement by the sister of the leader of the DPRK Kim Jong-un, deputy head of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea Kim Yo-jong, that Pyongyang “will always be in the same trench” with the Russian army, standing up for the defense of dignity and honor, was noteworthy. and the security of their country.
“North Korea made such a statement to express support for Russia, including in its assessment of the situation around the special military operation in Ukraine. Relations between the Russian Federation and the DPRK will be strengthened, and the United States will not be able to prevent this, despite their unfriendly actions”, the expert concluded.
Irina Taran, Elizaveta Komarova, RT
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