U.S. and South Korea Strengthen Nuclear Deterrence at Seoul Summit

The United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) convened the third Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) in Seoul on June 10, 2024. This meeting is part of the ongoing effort to implement the Washington Declaration established in April 2023, aimed at strengthening the U.S.-ROK Alliance and enhancing extended deterrence to promote peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.

The session was co-chaired by Dr. Vipin Narang, U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, and Dr. Cho Chang Lae, ROK Deputy Minister for National Defense Policy. The meeting saw participation from officials across various U.S. and ROK defense, foreign affairs, intelligence, and military agencies, including the U.S. National Security Council and the ROK National Security Office.

During the meeting, both sides acknowledged the progress made by the NCG in bolstering nuclear deterrence and response capabilities through detailed discussions on extended deterrence, information sharing, consultative mechanisms, and joint planning and execution.

The NCG Principals praised the significant advances in various NCG workstreams, such as the NCG Guidelines, security and information sharing protocols, nuclear consultation and communication processes during crises and contingencies, nuclear and strategic planning, and U.S.-ROK conventional and nuclear integration (CNI). These efforts aim to enhance strategic communications, exercises, simulations, training, and risk reduction practices.

The meeting also completed a review of the Guidelines document, which outlines principles and procedures to maintain and strengthen credible and effective nuclear deterrence. Both sides agreed that these Guidelines will provide a solid foundation for future U.S.-ROK cooperation on extended deterrence as equal partners.

Furthermore, the discussion included joint and combined planning and execution of U.S.-ROK CNI options on the Korean Peninsula, reaffirming that the integration of ROK’s advanced conventional capabilities with U.S. nuclear operations significantly enhances allied deterrence and response capabilities against North Korean nuclear and missile threats.

The principals also applauded the second convening of the Nuclear Deterrence Immersion Course in May 2024, which enhanced the expertise of ROK interagency officials on nuclear deterrence application.

Both parties reaffirmed their commitment to continued close cooperation to strengthen combined deterrence and defense posture. They plan to leverage interagency simulations and various exercises as venues to practice NCG work. Additionally, discussions on enhancing the visibility of U.S. strategic asset deployments and conducting U.S.-ROK CNI exercises were held.

The NCG principals approved the work plan and proposed key activities for the latter half of 2024, emphasizing the need for expedited and coordinated progress on NCG workstreams. Outcomes will be reported at the 56th U.S.-ROK Security Consultative Meeting in Washington D.C. this fall.

The fourth principal-level NCG meeting will be held in the United States later this year.–News Desk