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US, South Korea planning response to any North Korea ‘nuclear use’: White House

WASHINGTON: Washington and Seoul are planning an “effective coordinated” response if North Korea uses nuclear weapons, the White House warned on Tuesday (Jan 3).

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and US President Joe Biden have “tasked their teams to plan for an effective coordinated response to a range of scenarios, including nuclear use by North Korea”, a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House said.

The NSC spoke out after confusion emerged in media reports about the allies’ response to nuclear sabre rattling from Pyongyang.

On Monday, Biden had said “no” when asked if joint nuclear exercises were a possibility, seemingly contradicting earlier comments from Yoon.

The NSC spokesman clarified that joint exercises were not an option because South Korea does not have its own nuclear weapons.

However, “the United States is fully committed to our alliance … and providing extended deterrence through the full range of US defence capabilities”, the spokesman said.

In Seoul, Yoon’s office said in a statement that the allies are “in talks over information-sharing, joint planning and the joint implementation plans that follow with regard to the operation of US nuclear assets to respond to North Korea’s nuclear weapons”.

“TABLETOP” PLANNING

Some interpreted earlier Yoon comments in a newspaper interview as indicating more elaborate joint nuclear exercises.

In an interview with the Chosun Ilbo newspaper published on Monday, Yoon said the United States’ existing “nuclear umbrella” and “extended deterrence” were no longer enough to reassure South Koreans.

“The nuclear weapons belong to the United States, but the planning, information sharing, exercises and training must be done jointly by South Korea and the United States,” Yoon said, adding that the US was “quite positive” about the idea.

Source By https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/us-south-korea-planning-response-any-north-korea-nuclear-use-white-house-3181051