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US, South Korea strengthen alliance, revise deterrence agreement against North Korea

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The United States and South Korea have jointly updated their key military agreement to enhance deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear threats.

During the annual Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his South Korean counterpart Shin Won-sik revised the Tailored Deterrence Strategy (TDS), a crucial pact outlining joint strategies to counter North Korea’s nuclear weapons and other arms.

The revised agreement empowers the allies to more effectively deter and respond to the advancing nuclear and non-nuclear capabilities of North Korea, addressing strategic impacts. Originally adopted in 2013, the document underwent updates to better align with the rapidly evolving nuclear and missile threats posed by Pyongyang.

The move comes amidst heightened defense cooperation between the two nations, with joint military exercises featuring advanced stealth jets and US strategic assets. A notable event was the port call of an American nuclear-armed submarine in South Korea in July, marking the first such visit in four decades. Additionally, a US B-52 heavy bomber landed on the Korean peninsula for the first time in the 21st century.

During a joint press conference after the meeting, Secretary Austin emphasized the strength of the alliance, stating, “I’m proud to say our alliance is stronger than ever.” South Korea’s Defense Minister Shin echoed this sentiment, asserting that despite global conflicts, Seoul and Washington maintain “the most powerful alliance in history and the world.”

Addressing potential provocations from North Korea, Minister Shin affirmed that any war provoked by North Korea would result in the elimination of the Kim Jong Un regime and pave the way for unification based on the liberal democratic order led by the Republic of Korea.

The top officials concluded the meeting by pledging to work closely on expanding the scale and types of field exercises in the coming year. Recognizing the evolving nuclear and missile capabilities of North Korea, they also committed to further discussions on the inclusion of a DPRK nuclear scenario during future joint exercises between the United States and South Korea.

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