Inaugural session of S. Korea-U.S. Nuclear Consultative Group likely to be held in Seoul this month

July 5, 2023

South Korea and the United States are likely to hold the inaugural session of the newly established Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) in Seoul later this month, officials said Wednesday.

The NCG was established during a summit between President Yoon Suk Yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden in April to strengthen the U.S.’ “extended deterrence” commitment to defending South Korea with all of its military capabilities, including nuclear weapons.

The allies have been coordinating the date, place and agenda for the first NCG meeting, and are nearing an agreement on holding it in Seoul around July 27, the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice Agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War, officials said.

“Working-level talks on the schedule for the first meeting proceeded quite smoothly,” a presidential official told Yonhap News Agency. “We’ve reached the point where we’ll be able to make an announcement soon.”

The meeting will likely be led by Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo and U.S. National Security Council Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell.

The two sides initially planned to appoint deputy minister-level officials to lead the talks but later decided to elevate the rank of the chief delegate to the vice minister level for the first session.

“The Washington Declaration is so significant that it was important to establish a proper framework from the first session,” another official said, referring to the document outlining plans for the NCG and adopted by Yoon and Biden at their summit.

The NCG’s objective is to strengthen extended deterrence, discuss nuclear and strategic planning, and manage the threat to the nonproliferation regime posed by North Korea. The group will meet every quarter and report the results to each president.

Yoon and Biden could meet again to discuss the results of the first meeting on the sidelines of a South Korea-U.S.-Japan summit planned for later this summer in Washington, a presidential official said.