South Korea and the U.S. will apply their “tailored deterrence strategy” to the allied military exercises for the first time this year as part of their stepped-up efforts to cope with increasing North Korean military threats.
In a move to foster peace and stability, Seoul will push to begin a project this year to establish a peace park within the Demilitarized Zone bisecting the peninsula and make a proposal to Pyongyang about the initiative at an “appropriate time.”
Seoul’s ministries of defense, foreign affairs and unification unveiled these and other plans for the year 2014 in their policy briefing to President Park Geun-hye on Thursday at the Defense Ministry in central Seoul.
Park called on the ministries to make “all-out” efforts to maintain a robust security posture, calling it a basic foundation for achieving all other policy tasks.
“Peace can be secured with strong power. That said, I urge you to maintain complete readiness to sternly respond to any North Korean provocations. Any dialogue, any effort to build trust cannot proceed properly should security be tenuous,” said Park.
“In the face of North Korean threats from its nuclear arms, missiles and other weapons of mass destruction, we should secure capabilities based on our alliance with the U.S. and continue to improve our self-defense capabilities to proactively handle future new security challenges.”
Acknowledging her appreciation of the agreement on Wednesday to hold the cross-border reunions of separated families from Feb. 20-25, Park said that Seoul should craft measures, including cooperation with international organizations, to help divided families verify whether their long-lost loved ones are still alive.
During its policy briefing, the Defense Ministry said South Korea and the U.S. will apply the tailored deterrence strategy to their upcoming annual Key Resolve command post drills and Foal Eagle field training exercise.
The strategy is a set of concrete military and non-military procedures to deal with threats from the North’s nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction. The assets for the strategy include the U.S.’ full range of capabilities including its nuclear umbrella, and conventional strike and missile defense assets.
“The allies will conduct their exercises to respond to major scenarios of nuclear crises that could possibly be caused by the North,” said a Defense Ministry official on condition of anonymity.
The scenarios would include situations involving the North using nuclear bombs or WMDs, or defying international diplomatic efforts against its use of nuclear arms and attempts to employ nuclear arms.
Seoul and Washington plan to draw up guidelines for the tailored deterrence strategy that would specify when, with what assets, through what procedures and for what purposes the allies would implement the strategy.
The ministry also told the president that Seoul and Washington would continue to discuss the timing of the transfer of wartime operational control with an aim to finalize their consultations this year. Its report also included the plan to secure five military surveillance satellites by the first half of the 2020s.
In addition to the plan to begin the project for a DMZ peace park, the Unification Ministry also said that it would step up cooperation with the North and the neighboring states to push for Seoul’s Eurasia Initiative.
The initiative calls for the linking of energy and logistics infrastructure across the continent. In particular, the ministry said it would actively push for the “Najin-Hasan project” ― one part of the initiative involving the North and Russia that seeks to modernize the 54-kilometer-long Najin-Hasan railway.
The Foreign Ministry said it would strengthen strategic cooperation with the U.S. and China to prevent North Korean provocations and make progress on the North’s denuclearization.
The ministry also unveiled its “Principled and Effective Two-Track Approach” under which Seoul continues to seek dialogue with the North, and at the same time, step up pressure on the North to renounce its nuclear ambitions.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org)