Updated June 11th, 2024 at 20:37 IST

U.S. and South Korea Boost Efforts to Counter North Korea's Nuclear Threat Through 3rd NCG Meeting

Shared guidelines for the alliance were signed, aiming to strengthen nuclear deterrence principles and procedures.

Reported by: Yuvraj Tyagi
Nuclear Consultative Group | Image:AP

Washington: U.S. and South Korean officials convened today for the third meeting of the Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG), focusing on strengthening cooperation and enhancing nuclear deterrence on the Korean Peninsula. Richard C. Johnson, deputy assistant secretary of defence for nuclear and countering weapons of mass destruction policy, emphasized the progress made, stating, "Across the board, we're making progress in the Nuclear Consultative Group."   

Johnson highlighted the significance of the NCG's establishment, noting its role in elevating discussions on nuclear deterrence. "The work that we're doing is really key. Whether that's from information sharing to joint planning and execution," he said during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.  


Shared Guidelines for U.S.-South Korea Alliance Signed  

A major outcome of the meeting was the signing of shared guidelines for the U.S.-South Korea alliance. These guidelines, Johnson explained, serve as principles and procedures to strengthen a credible and effective nuclear deterrence policy and posture. "This will really be the foundation upon which we move forward in the NCG on U.S./[South Korea] cooperation," he added.

Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Kentucky proceeds on the surface to Busan for a port visit.

According to the NCG statement, the guidelines aim to maintain and strengthen the alliance's nuclear deterrence policy and posture. Johnson noted that a key focus of the meeting was on conventional nuclear integration (CNI), ensuring effective integration of U.S. nuclear capabilities with South Korea's conventional capabilities in the event of a nuclear crisis.  

Enhanced Conventional Nuclear Integration and Tabletop Exercises  

The NCG reaffirmed that integrating South Korea's conventional capabilities with U.S. nuclear operations strengthens allied deterrence and response capabilities against North Korea's nuclear and missile threat. Johnson praised South Korea's advancements in conventional capabilities and the progress made in this area.  

Another focus of the meeting was increased tabletop exercises to practice the integration and deterrence sought by the NCG. "The best way to understand how to operate in this ... world is to practice," Johnson said. He announced that at least three tabletop exercises, including a military-to-military exercise, are planned over the next year.  


Visibility of U.S. Strategic Deterrent Assets  

Participants in today's meeting agreed to conduct an interagency simulation, an NCG-led tabletop exercise, and a military-to-military tabletop exercise. Johnson also stressed the importance of enhancing the visibility of U.S. commitment to the alliance through strategic deterrent assets. In July 2023, the USS Kentucky, a nuclear ballistic missile submarine, visited South Korea's port of Busan, marking the first such visit in over 40 years.


Johnson expressed optimism about the collaboration between the U.S. and South Korea, stating, "I think we're in a very good place. I don't think we've ever had this high of a level of collaboration, commitment, and trust on extended deterrence than we've ever had with the United States and the Republic of Korea."  

Foundation of the Nuclear Consultative Group  

The NCG was created to implement the April 2023 Washington Agreement, where the U.S. reaffirmed its commitment to South Korea and the Korean people. The agreement stated that any nuclear attack by North Korea against South Korea "will be met with a swift, overwhelming and decisive response."  

Today's meeting of the NCG signifies a crucial step in reinforcing the U.S.-South Korea alliance and their shared commitment to maintaining peace and security on the Korean Peninsula through enhanced nuclear deterrence and cooperation. As both nations continue to navigate the complexities of regional security, the NCG remains a pivotal platform for strategic dialogue and joint action. 


Published June 11th, 2024 at 19:46 IST