S. Korea, U.S. reaffirm plan for tabletop exercise on nuclear use by N. Korea

South Korea and the United States on Friday reaffirmed a plan to hold a discussion-based exercise simulating North Korea's use of a nuclear weapon as part of efforts to strengthen their joint response to Pyongyang's nuclear threats. The two sides noted the plan for the tabletop exercise (TTX) during their regular defense talks, the Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue, in Washington on Thursday (local time), according to a joint statement. The allies had agreed to incorporate scenarios of nuclear operations into their regular summertime military exercise in a session of the Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) last December. Although the allies held their first TTX on nuclear weapon use by the North in February last year, it would mark the first time such training takes place in conjunction with the Ulchi Freedom Shield exercise in August. As part of efforts to deepen cooperation against the North's threats, President Yoon Suk Yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden issued a joint declaration last April to estab lish the NCG to discuss nuclear and strategic planning. During the latest talks, the U.S. side reaffirmed its commitment to the defense of South Korea, reiterating that any North Korean nuclear attack against the United States or its allies and partners will result in the end of the North's regime, according to the statement. The two sides also discussed ongoing military cooperation between North Korea and Russia, noting that it undermines peace and stability in Europe and the Indo-Pacific region, and pledged to respond to it in close coordination with the international community. They also held in-depth discussions on cooperation for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region. "The U.S. side noted the ROK's efforts to collaborate on MRO initiatives and affirmed that such cooperation is in accordance with the direction of enhancing the Alliance's posture and capabilities," it said, referring to the South by the acronym of its official name, the Republic of Korea. In Fe bruary, U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro visited shipyards in South Korea to explore possible MRO cooperation. In addition, the two sides agreed to make efforts for a Reciprocal Defense Procurement agreement that will provide reciprocal market access as part of efforts to enhance supply chain resiliency and strengthen defense cooperation, the statement said. They also agreed to modernize the alliance with advanced technologies, noting that South Korea's recently launched military reconnaissance satellite contributes to their joint surveillance capabilities. South Korea launched its first military spy satellite into orbit last December and its second one earlier this week under a plan to acquire five such satellites by 2025. The two sides stressed the importance of trilateral cooperation with Japan, and they agreed on the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, according to the statement. Source: Yonhap News Agency

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