South Korea and the United States have revised their bilateral security agreement during talks aimed at countering North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. The Tailored Deterrence Strategy (TDS), which was established 10 years ago, is being updated to address the rapid advancements in North Korea’s weapons programs. South Korea’s Defence Minister Shin Won-sik and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin signed the updated agreement during the security talks in Seoul. The specifics of the updates have not been disclosed by the Defence Ministry. The discussions also focused on jointly countering threats from North Korea through the execution of an “extended deterrence” strategy, which involves the use of strategic military assets, including nuclear forces, by the United States to defend its allies. The two countries have been enhancing security cooperation, including the launch of the Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) and strengthening the execution of the extended deterrence strategy. The goal of the nuclear discussions is to better coordinate an allied nuclear response in the event of a war with North Korea. Recent changes in North Korean and Chinese capabilities and intentions have increased the risk of deterrence failure, according to a study by the Atlantic Council think tank. The study suggests that while an all-out nuclear attack is unlikely, Pyongyang could escalate with limited military actions, including possible nuclear strikes. The Israel-Hamas war and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have also raised concerns about North Korea’s military cooperation with Moscow and its support for Hamas militants. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol emphasized the need for readiness against any provocations by North Korea, including a “Hamas-style surprise attack.” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reaffirmed the US commitment to defending South Korea using the full range of American military capabilities. The defence meetings took place as North Korea prepares to launch a military reconnaissance satellite and faces accusations of shipping munitions to Russia for its support in weapons programs. The defence chiefs from South Korea, Japan, and the United States have agreed to start a real-time data sharing scheme on North Korean missiles in December.
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