The Korea Herald


South Korea to set up command for defense against North Korean nuclear threats

By Kim Arin

Published : Feb. 6, 2024 - 17:42

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South Korean Capital Defense Command (Yonhap) South Korean Capital Defense Command (Yonhap)

South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense is mulling a plan to establish a new command for countering North Korean nuclear threats in Seoul.

The plan would involve expanding the existing Joint Chiefs of Staff headquarters for responding to nuclear and weapons of mass destruction threats to South Korea, according to the Defense Ministry on Tuesday. The JCS headquarters was set up in January last year.

The Defense Ministry said the new command would oversee South Korea’s “three-axis” nuclear preparedness system comprising the Korea Air and Missile Defense, the Korea Massive Punishment Retaliation and Kill Chain.

The Defense Ministry said that the final decision on the command -- including its location and objectives -- is expected to be made before the end of 2024. Defense Minister Shin Won-sik had told reporters earlier that the command would be launched sometime over the second half of the year.

Separately, a plan is underway for moving the JCS headquarters, currently located near the Defense Ministry, to the site of the Capital Defense Command by 2027.

In the latest in a series of military provocations since the beginning of the year, North Korea is believed to have test-launched cruise missiles designed to be fired from submarines last week. The new strategic cruise missiles are suspected of having the ability to carry nuclear weapons.

North Korea also claims to have tested an undersea nuclear weapons system earlier this year, which national security authorities in South Korea have dismissed as being exaggerated.

During a speech delivered at a key party meeting in December last year, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un highlighted “completing the readiness for a war” as one of the chief tasks for 2024, according to the official media in Pyongyang.