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North Korea reacts furiously to US extended deterrence

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Pyongyang launches short-range ballistic missile

By Kang Seung-woo

North Korea threatened, Thursday, that the United States will meet with fiercer military responses if it reinforces extended deterrence to its allies. Hours after the warning, Pyongyang fired a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) toward the East Sea.

Choe Son-hui / Korea Times file
Choe Son-hui / Korea Times file
Diplomatic observers expect that tensions between the U.S. and North Korea will be unavoidable for a while unless one side makes a concession.

Extended deterrence refers to the commitment to use a full range of capabilities, including nuclear weapons to deter attacks on allies. The U.S. has provided extended deterrence, known as the "nuclear umbrella," to South Korea since 1991 when it removed all of its nuclear assets from the South.

"The keener the U.S. is on the 'bolstered offer of extended deterrence' to its allies and the more they intensify provocative and bluffing military activities on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, the fiercer the DPRK's military counteraction will be, in direct proportion to it, and it will pose a more serious, realistic and inevitable threat to the U.S. and its vassal forces," North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said in a statement, carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea.

"The U.S. will be well aware that it is gambling for which it will certainly regret," she added.

Her volatile statement came four days after President Yoon Suk-yeol held a three-way meeting with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts, Joe Biden and Fumio Kishida, Sunday, on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. During the talks, Biden reaffirmed that Washington will strengthen its extended deterrence for Seoul and Tokyo amid mounting nuclear and missile threats from Pyongyang.

The leaders also reaffirmed that if North Korea conducts a nuclear test, it would be met with a strong and resolute response from the international community. North Korea is ready to carry out another test, according to South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities.

"I clarify a serious warning stand toward the fact that the U.S., Japan and South Korea held a three-party summit a few days ago and talked about bolstered offer of extended deterrence and 'strong and resolute counteraction,' describing the DPRK's legitimate and just military counteractions, incited by their war drills for aggression, as 'provocation,'" Choe said.

"The recent tripartite talks will finally result in bringing the situation on the Korean Peninsula to an unpredictable phase."

According to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the totalitarian state launched an SRBM from the Wonsan area in Kangwon Province at 10:48 a.m., and it traveled 240 kilometers at an apogee of 45 kilometers with a top speed of Mach 4.

Shortly before the launch, South Korea and the U.S. staged a preplanned missile defense exercise involving the allies' Aegis-equipped destroyers, the JCS added.

Plus, the launch also occurred one day after a U.S. B-1B strategic bomber conducted a hot pit refuel, a drill to quickly refuel aircraft on the ground without turning off the engine and get it back into the air. Given that the exercise took place a 20-minute flight away from North Korea, it is seen as another warning to the North.

"Given that Choe issued the statement as foreign minister, the message was directed to the U.S., warning that if there is no change in the current situation, the country can push ahead with a launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile or a nuclear test," said Cho Han-bum, a senior researcher from the Korea Institute for National Unification, adding that Thursday's SRBM was a follow-up action to Choe's statement.

"China is showing no signs of getting involved in resolving the North Korea issue, so it is unlikely for Pyongyang to back down. In addition, the trilateral alliance between South Korea, the U.S. and Japan is getting stronger, heralding that the confrontation between the U.S. and North Korea will be likely for the time being."

Kang Seung-woo


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