WASHINGTON & Seoul Commit To Strengthen Military Cooperation To Tackle North Korea

September 3rd, 2017 | by Sukumar Roy
WASHINGTON & Seoul Commit To Strengthen Military Cooperation To Tackle North Korea
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President Donald Trump has given “conceptual approval” to sell American military equipment worth billions of dollars to South Korea to strengthen their alliance through defence cooperation to fight the threats posed by North Korea. North Korea on Tuesday fired a ballistic missile from its capital Pyongyang that flew over Japan before plunging into the northern Pacific Ocean giving a clear message of defiance as Washington and Seoul conduct war games nearby. It also appeared to be the North’s longest-ever missile test, but South Korean officials couldn’t immediately confirm. The US, South Korea and Japan have taken the missile test seriously viewing this attempt to threaten their territorial integrity and disturb peace in the region. It came as US and South Korean forces were nearing the end of the 10-day annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint exercises, which the North regards as a rehearsal for invasion.

POTUS Trump reacted immediately declaring that “all options are on the table” in an implied threat of pre-emptive military action. In Seoul, The Presidential Blue House spokesman confirmed that US President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in agreed to enhance the country’s deterrence against North Korea by boosting its missile capabilities.Park Soo-hyun, the spokesman for Seoul’s presidential office, said the leaders have reached an agreement in principle to loosen — “to the extent hoped by the South Korean side” — limits on the South’s ballistic missile capability.Under a bilateral agreement with the United States, Seoul is currently restricted to ballistic missiles with a maximum range of 800 kilometres and payload of 500 kgs equivalent to 1100 pounds. The South wants the maximum warhead weight doubled to one tonne, and the Pentagon has said it was “actively” considering the revision. Signed with the US in 2001 — the year South Korea joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) — the agreement initially limited Seoul to rockets with a range of just 300 kilometres, due to US concerns about triggering a regional arms race in Northeast Asia.

Trump in a phone call with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in discussed a coordinated response to deal with the “destabilising and escalatory behaviour” of North Korea, the White House said.”Trump and Moon pledged to continue to apply strong diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea and to make all necessary preparations to deter and defend against the growing threat posed by North Korea,” The White House said. The two leaders pledged to strengthen their alliance through defence cooperation and strengthen South Korea’s defence capabilities. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at their highest point in years after a series of missile tests by Pyongyang. Calls are also mounting in South Korea for Seoul to build nuclear weapons of its own to defend itself as nuclear-armed North Korea’s missile stand-off with the US escalates.

The South hosts 28,500 US troops to defend it but is banned from building its own nuclear weapons under a 1974 atomic energy deal it signed with Washington, which instead offers a “nuclear umbrella” against potential attacks.”Trump provided his conceptual approval of planned purchases by South Korea of billions of dollars in American military equipment,” the White House said. Trump has also spoken to President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan to discuss the two countries’ 25-year relationship and his recently announced South Asia strategy.”Trump expressed appreciation for Kazakhstan’s regional and global leadership, including its upcoming tenure as Chair of the United Nations Security Council in January, and congratulated President Nazarbayev on hosting the Astana Expo 2017,” the White House said.

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