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Seoul Hosts Third Round of Nuclear Coordination Talks with US

South Korea and U.S are scheduled to conduct talks in Seoul aimed at enhancing coordination on a joint nuclear response to a potential conflict with North Korea, amid growing concerns over Pyongyang’s expanding nuclear capabilities, according to officials in Seoul.

The third session of the Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG), set for Monday, seeks to build upon last year’s summit, where the United States pledged to provide South Korea with greater insights into its nuclear contingency planning vis-à-vis North Korea.

These discussions come against the backdrop of North Korea’s ongoing advancements in its nuclear arsenal and delivery systems, prompting discussions within South Korea about the efficacy of relying on “extended deterrence” provided by the American nuclear umbrella.

There have been calls from some politicians, including prominent members of President Yoon Suk-yeol’s party, for Seoul to pursue its own nuclear weapons program, a move that Washington opposes.

In response to North Korea’s failed attempt to launch a military reconnaissance satellite at the end of May, with a newly developed rocket engine exploding mid-flight, both Seoul and Washington condemned the action as a breach of UN Security Council sanctions prohibiting Pyongyang’s use of ballistic technology.

The upcoming talks will be led by Cho Chang-rae, South Korea’s deputy defense minister for policy, and Vipin Narang, acting US assistant secretary of defense for space policy.

Following their second meeting in December, both sides issued a joint warning that any nuclear aggression by North Korea against the United States or its allies would be met with a “swift, overwhelming, and decisive response.”

Last week, South Korea’s Defense Minister Shin Won-sik and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held discussions on the sidelines of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore, where they reiterated their commitment to the complete denuclearization of North Korea and ongoing efforts to bolster US extended deterrence.

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