Minister James Mattis’ visit to Korea is interpreted that the Trump administration will continuously maintain and reinforce the firm alliance between Korea and the U.S., and it also showcases the U.S.’s strong defense commitment toward Korea. It also symbolizes the strong will of the ROK-U.S. alliance to respond to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.
The Ministry of National Defense summed up the talks with 4 key points. First, we reconfirmed the U.S.’s strong defense commitment toward Korea, as well as the firm Korea-U.S. alliance. “Minister Mattis expressed his determined will to defend Korea. He also said that the U.S. would effectively do overwhelming response to North Korean nuclear and missile threats with military capabilities of all kinds, including a nuclear umbrella, traditional striking capabilities, missile defense capabilities, etc.,” said the MND.
The MND also declared their intent to ensure that the alliance has a powerful response against North Korea’s threats. The MND explained, “Both ministers evaluated North Korea’s threats, which are extreme, and held an extensive discussion on the situation that North Korea is currently facing and the counterplans for this. Minister Mattis said the Trump administration regards North Korea’s nuclear capability as a top priority in its security policy. They shared the same view regarding the need to maintain a strong combined defense posture to immediately respond to any kinds of provocations.”
They also agreed to continue to cooperate with the international community to establish sanctions against and put pressure on North Korea. The MND also said that North Korea is likely to provoke us during the Key Resolve/Foal Eagle (KR/FE) exercises this coming March to test the Trump administration’s will. Both ministers agreed to hold more intensive KR/FE exercises.
The ministers also agreed to continue to discuss how to reinforce their executive ability of the Extended Deterrence. The MND said, “Both ministers have agreed to continue to discuss more practical and detailed measures to develop a tailored deterrence strategy to respond to increasing North Korean nuclear and missile threats. They evaluated how the Korea-U.S.-Japan security cooperation plays a useful role in effectively responding to the North’s threats, and agreed to pursue continuous cooperation based on their common awareness of the situation.”
Lastly, they formed a consensus to stably carry out the alliance’s pending issues, including the THAAD deployment, etc. of the U.S. forces in Korea. In this regard, the MND said, “Both ministers reconfirmed that it’s a decision made in self-defense by the Korea-U.S. alliance to protect the Korean people and the military power of the Korea-U.S. alliance against the existing nuclear and missile threats of North Korea. They agreed to push forward THAAD deployment and other operations as planned within the year. The MND only emphasized that the objective of the THAAD deployment is only to defend against North Korean missile threats.”
Source: Ministry of Defense of Republic of Korea