A top State Department official has said that the United States would use its full military capabilities, including nuclear weapons, to protect South Korea and Japan from a potential attack from North Korea.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman emphasized the US ‘nuclear umbrella policy’ when speaking ahead of multiple rounds of talks in Tokyo with her South Korean and Japanese counterparts on Tuesday.
While vowing ironclad cooperation with allies in Asia, Sherman also blasted Pyongyang for its record number of irresponsible, dangerous, and destabilizing weapons tests this year, which are a major focus of this week’s meetings.
Previously, South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyundong sounded the alarm over North Korea’s nuclear weapons policies that were updated last month, stressing during a separate meeting with Sherman before the three-way sit-down that Pyongyang’s actions were creating serious tension on the Korean Peninsula.
Amid the ongoing provocations by Pyongyang, which maintains that its nuclear arsenal is intended only for self-defense, the three countries pledged on Wednesday deeper military ties, also agreeing that if North Korea conducts a seventh nuclear test, an unparalleled scale of response would need to be put in place.
In retaliation to joint US-South Korean war games that it blasted as rehearsals for an invasion, North Korea has executed a flurry of weapons tests and shows of force, also announcing recently it had carried out a drill simulating the loading of tactical nuclear warheads into a silo hidden below a reservoir.
Per Pyongyang’s explanation, the drill was part of the September series of exercises aimed and ensuring the readiness of its nuclear forces to protect the country.
Although the country has refrained from any live detonations since 2017, US officials have repeatedly predicted an imminent North Korean nuclear test in recent months amid the major spike in tensions between the two Koreas.