S. Korea, U.S. to hold defense talks regarding N. Korea threats next week

September 17, 2015


SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korea and the United States will hold their annual senior-level defense talks next week to discuss joint deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and alliance issues, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.

Yoo Jeh-seung, deputy minister for policy at the Ministry of National Defense, will lead South Korea’s delegation to the Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD) to be held in Seoul on Sept. 23-24, according to the ministry.

The U.S. will be represented by Abraham Denmark, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, and Elaine Bunn, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy.

Main agenda items include the coordination of ways to deter and respond to the North’s possible nuclear and missile provocations, it said.

The meeting will take place about two weeks before North Korea’s anniversary of its communist party on Oct. 10 for which the country is widely expected to launch a long-range missile in celebration.

On Monday, the North vowed to launch a rocket carrying what it claims to be an observation satellite. But the outside world views it as a disguised test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Pyongyang also said that its nuclear reactors at the Yongbyon complex have been fully operating, hinting at another nuclear detonation test.

During the upcoming session, the defense officials may also delve into counteractions that should be taken in case the North pushes ahead with any such provocations.

Also high on agenda will be the agreed transfer of the wartime operational control (OPCON) of South Korean forces.

In November, the countries agreed to delay the U.S.-held wartime OPCON transfer to South Korea until the Northeast Asian country is capable of countering North Korean threats, with the mid-2020s tentatively set for the transition.

KIDD was launched in 2011 on top of the annual defense ministers’ talks, the Security Consultative Meeting (SCM), aimed at discussing security and defense policies.

The two sides will also discuss topics and schedules of this year’s SCM to be held in Seoul in October.