US, South Korea set new defense strategy

US, South Korea set new defense strategy

SEOUL - The Associated Press
US, South Korea set new defense strategy

The United Nations honour guards march with flags during a change of command ceremony for the top commander of US troops in South Korea. AFP photo

The U.S. and South Korea agreed Oct.2 to work together to strengthen the South’s ability to deter threats from North Korea, and have endorsed a new military strategy to better coordinate the response to a nuclear, chemical or other attack from Pyongyang.

In a formal, signed statement, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin also said they are also setting up a panel to review the possibility of delaying the transfer of wartime control of South Korean troops from Washington to Seoul. That handover is currently slated for 2015.

Speaking at the close of the 45th annual security meeting between the two nations, Hagel said the U.S. is committed “to using all our military capabilities” - including nuclear capabilities, as well as missile defense and conventional strikes - to deter North Korea from taking any aggressive action against the South.

“Of particular concern are North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, its proliferation activities and its chemical weapons,” Hagel said during a press conference.

“There should be no doubt that any North Korean use of chemical weapons would be completely unacceptable,” he added.

The two countries urged North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions in a “complete, verifiable and irreversible manner,” including all activities at the Yongbyon nuclear facility.

Earlier this month a U.S. research institute said recent satellite images appeared to show that North Korea was restarting its plutonium reactor there.

Hagel further said the U.S. will work with South Korea and won’t make any decision that is not in the interests of both nations.