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“The revised TDS evolves from a conceptual response to a specific guideline”

Q&A session was held at the joint press conference of ROK-US Security Consultative Meeting (SCM)

Minister Shin, Wonsik expressed confidence in the meeting’s positive impact on security

Sending a message to neighboring countries that could aid North Korea

“Will supplement the direction for enhancing the execution of extended deterrence”

US Secretary of Defense Austin emphasized a close relationship between South Korea, the United States, and Japan

“Will increase the frequency of deployment of strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula”

Agreed to establish a senior consultative body for defense industry cooperation


South Korea and the United States reaffirmed the robustness of the ROK-US alliance and combined defense posture at the Korea-US-Japan defense ministerial meeting on November 12 and the 55th ROK-US Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) on November 13. Defense Minister Shin, Wonsik said, “The ROK-US alliance, marking its 70th anniversary, is making both qualitative and quantitative leaps for the peace, stability and prosperity of not only the Korean Peninsula, but the world.” He added, “We also materialized agreements in the defense sector to develop the alliance into a global comprehensive strategic alliance.” The following are questions and answers in their joint press conference.


Defense Minister Shin, Wonsik (right) holds a join

- What did Korea and the Unites States discuss regarding the Sept. 19 Inter-Korean Military Agreement?


Secretary Austin: “We had an opportunity to exchange views on this, and we arrived at an agreement to stay in close consultation going forward.”


- The Tailored Deterrence Strategy (TDS) was established in 2013. What is the difference between it and the revised one this time?

Minister Shin: “The biggest difference would be that throughout the last 10 years, North Korea has greatly advanced its nuclear capability. The second difference would be that there were outcomes of the Washington Declaration, which led to the launch of the Nuclear Consultative Group, or NCG, last April. US nuclear capability, which has been strictly excluded from the issues for discussion so far, is now included in the range of discussion concerning the ROK-US alliance or ROK-US combined defense. The third difference is that the previous TDS was a conceptual response. However, the revised TDS is a concrete guideline for joint planning and the execution of combined exercises.”


- Are these efforts sufficient for the security of South Korea?


Minister Shin: “South Korea and the United States are continuously developing the extended deterrence, and by doing so, we are sending a message to North Korea and other countries that could possibly assist North Korea. To North Korea, it tells them that their attempt to advance nuclear weapons is a fruitless effort. To neighboring countries that could assist North Korea, it tells them that due to North Korea’s nuclear weapons, their strategic frame of understanding is changing. I believe that has a positive impact on the security of South Korea. In the future, I think we need to enhance the execution of the US extended deterrence from the current policy strategic dimension to the specification of operational needs.”


- There has been much progress made in terms of collaboration between S. Korea, the United States, and Japan.


Secretary Austin: “I am really proud of the progress that we have made in recent years in the cooperation between our three countries. We are seeing more trilateral cooperation than we have ever seen. This is the outcome of the trilateral summit between Korea, the United States and Japan in the United States in August. You have seen us most recently conduct a combined air exercise where all three countries flew together, and that is really a remarkable accomplishment, and we will continue to build on that. I believe that the trilateral relationship will develop further as a closer and better one in the future.”


- At the APEC meeting this week, it is likely that US President Biden will meet President Xi Jinping for an official summit meeting. Do you think there will be progress in cooperation between the United States and China?


Secretary Austin: “At this moment, I do not have an announcement about the outcome of the summit. The US-China relationship is a competitive one in a sense, and I believe that it is critical to prevent this type of relationship from turning into a crisis. Therefore, I think it is important for the leaders of both countries to meet and talk whenever necessary.”


- The United States is involved in multiple conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. Should a crisis break out in North Korea, how can the United States handle it?


Minister Shin: “Despite various global conflicts, the ROK-US alliance is historically one of the strongest in the world. Additionally, troops from both countries consistently maintain a firm readiness posture, embodying the attitude of 'fight tonight.' Therefore, if North Korea provokes, it is the Kim Jong-un regime that will face collapse, as affirmed by the leaders of both countries. Consequently, this leads to the possibility of unification under a free and democratic order led by the Republic of Korea.”


Defense Minister Shin, Wonsik (right) and US Secre

Defense Minister Shin, Wonsik (right) and US Secretary of Defense Austin answer questions from local and foreign media


- Defense industry cooperation between Korea and the United States was raised as one of the major agenda items of this SCM. What did both countries specifically discuss?


Minister Shin: “The two countries agreed to discuss details of defense industry cooperation by entering into a Security of Supply Arrangement (SOSA) and Reciprocal Defense Procurement-Agreement (RDP-A). We also earlier resolved to establish a senior consultative body between the Defense Ministry of Korea and Department of Defense of the United States to cultivate defense science and technology R&D. As for the timing of RDP-A, we are moving to launch it. Concerning the specific timing and roadmap, we will continue to discuss it.”


- Wars in the Middle East and Ukraine are continuing. There are public concerns in South Korea that US defense commitments to South Korea could be influenced by the outcome of a US presidential election.


Secretary Austin: “The questions seem to be about whether it is realistic for the United States to maintain the deployment of strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula. The answer is yes. The United States has the most powerful military in the world. What is important is that everywhere we are, everything that we do, we work with allies and partners. And we will continue to stand with our allies and partners. We will act decisively by continuing to cooperate with people in the face of aggression or conflicts. In the Washington Declaration, our presidents agreed to substantially increase the frequency of deploying strategic assets. As part of our efforts to live up to such promises, we have deployed strategic nuclear submarines and B-52H strategic bombers on the Korean Peninsula. There will be another carrier battle group that comes soon to the Korean Peninsula. To maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific region, we will mobilize assets whenever necessary, and do what our partners and allies want to do. As far as whether the next administration will continue to do what we have done, I am certain that this will continue.”


- What is your assessment of the current threat level of Hezbollah along Israel's northern border?


Secretary Austin: “Conflicts and crisis continue to occur. The risk remains, and the Israelis think that threats are tremendously serious. This risk will continue to exist. It has been tit-for-tat exchanges. It is hard to predict what will happen in the future. The United States does not want to see this conflict continue.”


- Did the United States ask for South Korea's help in providing weapons or munitions to Ukraine during the meetings?


Minister Shin: “South Korea’s government has provided support to Ukraine, including humanitarian aid, and the United States has expressed its gratitude to Korea for this aid. Going forward, the United States has also requested additional support for Ukraine from Korea, to which I responded that we will provide it.”


  • (Presentation and Follow-on discussion)