(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S. nearing completion to revise joint deterrence strategy against N.K. threats

South Korea and the United States are nearing completion of work to revise their joint deterrence strategy against North Korea’s evolving military threats, Seoul officials said Monday, as the allies held key regular defense talks here.

The two sides took stock of progress in the efforts to revise the “Tailored Deterrence Strategy (TDS)” during the biannual Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD) earlier in the day, the officials said. They seek to complete the revision by the end of this year.

The allies have been working to update and strengthen the key document to better reflect the North’s advancing nuclear and missile threats. It was adopted in 2013 to counter the security challenge from the recalcitrant regime’s weapons of mass destruction.

“Under a shared understanding, South Korea and the U.S. aim to revise the TDS within the year,” a defense official told reporters on condition of anonymity. “There has been considerable progress and we are nearing completion.”

The headway was reported amid concerns that a recent summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin could lead to an arms deal potentially to the detriment of regional security.

In January, Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup and his U.S. counterpart, Lloyd Austin, reaffirmed efforts to complete the TDS’ revision before their regular Security Consultative Meeting scheduled to take place in Seoul in November.

During the KIDD, the U.S. side reaffirmed its “ironclad” commitment to the defense of South Korea, leveraging the “full range” of its military capabilities, and reiterated that any nuclear attack by the North against the U.S. and its allies will result in the “end of the Kim regime,” according to a joint press statement.

The two sides agreed to enhance the alliance’s combined defense architecture by jointly developing the planning and execution of conventional-nuclear integration efforts through the bilateral Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG).

The NCG was established through the Washington Declaration issued by Presidents Yoon Suk Yeol and Joe Biden during their White House summit in April. It is designed to discuss nuclear and strategic planning issues.

The allies reaffirmed their joint goal for the “complete denuclearization of North Korea” and pledged to further strengthen the combined defense posture and capabilities to deter conflict on the peninsula, the statement read.

They also discussed trilateral security cooperation with Japan, including a plan to operationalize a system to share North Korean missile warning data in real time by the end of this year, as reaffirmed by their leaders during their three-way summit at Camp David last month.

In addition, they assessed that the allies’ Ulchi Freedom Shield exercise last month “significantly” improved their crisis management and all-out war execution capabilities, pledging to further strengthen combined exercises to stay “responsive” to the rapidly changing security environment on the Korean Peninsula, according to the statement.

During a working-group session on the conditions-based transfer of wartime operational control, the two sides reviewed progress in the efforts to meet a series of conditions for the transfer and reaffirmed a mutual security commitment.

Deputy Defense Minister for Policy Heo Tae-keun led the South Korean side in the latest KIDD meeting, while Cara Allison Marshall, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, headed the U.S. delegation.

Launched in 2011, KIDD is a comprehensive senior-level biannual defense meeting between the allies. The last session took place in Washington in April.

Source: Yonhap News Agency