Korea’s Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel reached an agreement to employ all the military capabilities to launch a preemptive strike against the North, if there is a clear sign of an imminent nuclear attack.
They also agreed to review and postpone the timing of the transfer of war-time command control of joint US-South Korean forces on the Korean peninsula from the US military to S. Korea. The transfer was scheduled to take place in December 2015, but will be delayed. The final decision on the timing will be made in the first quarter of 2014.
The two defense ministers held the 45th Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) in Seoul, Korea on October 2. At the meeting, both sides signed a “customized deterrence strategy” to respond to North Korea’s nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and adopted a joint communique.
They decided to respond militarily to the North’s nuclear threats by creating three stages of Pyongyang’s future use of nuclear weapons: the threatening stage, the imminent use stage, and the already-used stage. The new strategy involves preemptive strikes by S. Korea and the US against the North in the imminent use stage by fully utilizing the US nuclear umbrella and its missile defense systems, together with conventional arms such as cruise missiles and Aegis guided missile destroyers.
Following the meeting, Defense Minister Kim said, “The strategy contains effective deterrent methods in line with the North’s nuclear threat levels,” adding, “I anticipate that it will increase public trust in the effectiveness of the US-Korea alliance in deterring Pyongyang, and Koreans’ confidence in the US commitment to constraining the North’s nuclear capabilities.” His counterpart also commented, “North Korea’s provocations have become a global threat. So, America will provide nuclear deterrence capabilities to the South using all means available.”