The US will mobilize more weapons to counter North Korea | International
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The United States will increase its advanced weaponry, including fighter jets and bombers, on the Korean peninsula while bolstering joint exercises and operational planning with South Korea in response to the growing nuclear threat from North Korea, its Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin explained on Tuesday.
Austin made the remarks in Seoul after agreeing with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Jong-Sup, to expand their joint military exercises, including the resumption of live ammunition exercises, and the continuation of a “timely and coordinated” deployment of strategic assets. Americans in the region, according to their offices.
The officials also discussed preparations for a mock exercise between the allies in February to hone their response if the North uses nuclear weapons.
Austin’s trip comes as Seoul seeks stronger assurances that Washington will quickly and decisively use its nuclear capabilities to protect its ally from a possible attack by Pyongyang.
South Korean security concerns have grown since the North fired dozens of missiles in 2022, some of them nuclear-capable designed to hit targets in the South and on the US mainland.
South Korea and the United States have also strengthened their security cooperation with Japan, with recent trilateral missile defense and anti-submarine warfare exercises amid the provocative escalation of North Korean weapons tests.
In a joint press conference after their meeting, Austin and Lee said they agreed that the resumption of their large-scale military exercises last year, which included an aerial exercise with US strategic bombers in November, effectively demonstrated their ability. combined to deter North Korean aggression.
The allies had scaled back the exercises in recent years to make room for diplomacy with Pyongyang under former US President Donald Trump and because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea were derailed in 2019 by disagreements over easing Washington-led economic sanctions against the reclusive nation in exchange for steps by it to reduce nuclear weapons and missile programs.
The growing nuclear arsenal and North Korean provocations have increased the urgency for South Korea and Japan to strengthen their defensive capabilities in line with their alliances with the United States.
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