On Thursday the Pentagon said, U.S. and South Korean officials took part in a simulated “table-top” exercise that focused on the possibility of North Korea using a nuclear weapon.
North Korea that is nuclear-armed launched an unprecedented number of missiles last year, including intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. On Monday two missiles were launched by them into the Pacific Ocean.
North Korea could be preparing for its first test of a nuclear device since 2017, U.S. and South Korean officials have warned.
This deterrence strategy committee table-top exercise is the 8th for U.S. and South Korea, known as DSC TTX, and the first edition since their last year agreement to hold drills annually.
“Given the DPRK’s recent aggressive nuclear policy and advancements in nuclear capabilities, the (tabletop) scenario focused on the possibility of the DPRK’s use of nuclear weapons,” a Pentagon statement said, using the acronym of the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“The U.S. and South Korea delegations focused their discussion on Alliance deterrence to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and potential options for responding to DPRK nuclear weapons use,” the statement added but did not say specifically what scenarios were played out.
The readiness to deal with any North Korean nuclear threats was reaffirmed by the allies said the Seoul’s defense ministry. And the allies also agreed to continue reinforcing intelligence sharing, crisis consultation, joint planning, and execution of extended deterrence.
“The U.S. side stressed that any use of nuclear weapons by North Korea against the United States or its allies and friends would be unacceptable and result in an end of its regime,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia was visited by officials from both countries after carrying out the simulated exercise at the Pentagon on Wednesday.
“The delegations discussed how best to leverage (South Korea’s) non-nuclear capabilities to support nuclear deterrence against DPRK nuclear threats,” the statement added.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has been pushing to strengthen confidence in American extended deterrence since taking office in May. This includes its military capability, especially nuclear forces to deter attacks on its allies as Pyongyang strives to secure its capability to strike anywhere in the US.