S. Korea’s defense ministry and Pentagon to lead 3rd nuclear consultative meeting

SEOUL, South Korea's defense ministry and the Pentagon will lead the third meeting of the Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) slated for June in Seoul to discuss a shared nuclear strategy to deter North Korea's nuclear threat. Cho Chang-rae, South Korea's deputy defense minister for policy, and Vipin Narang, principal U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, signed a framework document on the NCG's operation at the Pentagon on Monday (local time), the defense ministry said. The NCG was established under the Washington Declaration that President Yoon Suk Yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden adopted during their summit in Washington in April 2023 as part of efforts to enhance deterrence against evolving North Korean nuclear and missile threats. The first two meetings were led by the National Security Councils of the two countries and joined by defense, foreign policy, military and intelligence officials from both sides. The inaugural meeting was held in Seoul in July and the second took place in Washington in December. Under the framework, Cho and Narang will lead the third session slated for June in Seoul. The upcoming meeting is expected to draw up guidelines encompassing a whole range of issues, including information sharing, security systems, consultation procedures for a nuclear crisis and the operation of a real-time leader-level communication channel. Once complete, the guidelines will be implemented during the Ulchi Freedom Shield, an annual joint military exercise to be held between the two nations' militaries in August, according to ministry officials. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain high as Pyongyang has vowed to advance its nuclear and missile programs, test-firing several new types of missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads this year. Seoul has assessed that Pyongyang remains ready to conduct a new nuclear test "at any time," though its timing hinges on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's strategic decision. Source: Yonhap News Agency