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Escalating Nuclear Showdown: Tensions mounting between US and North Korea

Seoul, South Korea, July 25:   North Korea fires two ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast, following the arrival of a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine at a South Korean naval base – the second such visit in recent days.

Reports suggest multiple missile launches, as tensions escalate on the Korean peninsula.

South Korea and the United States are intensifying military readiness against North Korea’s weapons program by deploying U.S. strategic military assets in the Korean peninsula.

In response, North Korea strongly opposes the deployments, stating they could trigger the use of its nuclear weapons.

Last week, North Korea conducted ballistic missile tests, coinciding with the presence of a nuclear-armed U.S. submarine at a South Korean port – the first U.S. submarine visit since the 1980s.

The visit comes as both nations initiated talks to coordinate their responses in the event of a nuclear war with North Korea.

North Korea launched a barrage of cruise missiles into the sea off its west coast.

Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) 

Last week, officials from both the United States and South Korea attended the first Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) discussion in the South Korean capital, Seoul, and announced that the group will meet quarterly at appropriate levels.

The NCG was announced following a summit held in Washington in April between South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden.

This group aims to enhance coordination between the allies in case of a conflict with North Korea, even as some voices in South Korea call for the country to develop its own nuclear weapons—a move opposed by the United States.

Notably, North Korea expressed condemnation towards the NCG, accusing the allies of openly discussing the use of nuclear weapons and warning against displays of military force, including the submarine visit.

Aligning to Counter North Korea

As North Korea’s missile capabilities continue to advance, the United States has committed to intensify its presence in South Korea with the deployment of additional strategic assets.

These assets include aircraft carriers, submarines, and long-range bombers, aimed at enhancing regional security and deterrence against potential threats from North Korea.

The U.S. Navy currently operates 14 SSBNs, equipped with Trident II D5 missiles capable of delivering up to eight nuclear warheads to targets as far as 12,000 km (7,500 miles) away.

During the NCG meeting, South Korea’s Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo emphasized the importance of the discussions, ensuring no need for South Korea to develop its own nuclear weapons.

The meeting led to agreements on information sharing, coordination, and planning in the event of a North Korean nuclear attack, with an overwhelming Allied response.

In an upcoming summit to be held in August, U.S. President Joe Biden will meet with the leaders of Japan and South Korea in the United States.

The aim of this meeting is to strengthen the trilateral partnership and address regional security concerns.

The allies are also planning to enhance nuclear deterrence and response capabilities on the Korean Peninsula through various operations, exercises, simulations, training, and investments.

Recently, the South Korean President along with leaders from Japan, Australia, and New Zealand participated in the 2023 NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he urged NATO leaders to be serious about the North Korean threat.

Despite North Korea’s threats of nuclear retaliation over the deployment of U.S. military assets in South Korea, both nations reaffirm their commitment to defend against nuclear threats and ensure regional stability.

The situation on the Korean peninsula and surrounding seas remains a major geopolitical concern, with the United States and its allies working together to address the challenges posed by North Korea and China.

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