Seoul, 31 January 2023 (TDI): The Secretary of Defense of the United States (US), Lloyd J. Austin will hold a discussion with the Defense Minister and Military officials of South Korea in Seoul. 

The two sides will focus on bolstering deterrence against North Korean nuclear threats on the Peninsula along with exploring ways to expand its extended deterrence activities and mechanisms on the Peninsula and in the region. 

Moreover, both sides will also focus on expanding joint military exercises and ways of triliteral ballistic missile defense and anti-submarine warfare exercises with Japan are also expected. 

The military cooperation is taking place in the face of North Korea’s increasingly vocal progress on its fronts, with leader Kim Jong-un ordering “an exponential increase” in the country’s nuclear arsenal.

Also read: US, South Korea launch joint drill on Korean Peninsula

The growth of North Korea’s weapons programs, as well as concerns over the US extended deterrence commitment, has prompted calls for South Korea to consider building its own nuclear weapons or asking the US to redeploy them to the peninsula.

Earlier this month, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said for the first time that his administration could consider the idea of building a nuclear arsenal. Soon after he added that this was not yet an official policy. 

Remarks of US Secretary of Defense

Secretary of Defense made the exclusive contribution to Yonhap News Agency before his scheduled meeting with his South Korean counterparts. 

“This week I am visiting the Republic of Korea (ROK) for the third time since taking office as Secretary of Defense, to deepen our cooperation and to discuss security challenges that we share,” said Lloyd Austin. 

He went on to further add that US and ROK are taking meaningful steps to strengthen our alliance.