U.S. Invites Japan, S. Korea to Create Nuclear Deterrence Consultative Body

Reuters file photo
The White House in Washington

WASHINGTON — The United States has approached Japan and South Korea to create a new consultative body on nuclear deterrence to enhance information sharing and other matters, according to sources.

With North Korea accelerating its nuclear and missile development program, the body is aimed at securing Japan and South Korea’s trust in the United State’s extended deterrence commitment, including its “nuclear umbrella,” and strengthening nuclear deterrence in a coordinated manner.

The Japanese government is considering accepting the proposal, according to sources. South Korea is also believed to be positive about the idea.

Japan and the United States hold talks on the U.S. nuclear deterrence among foreign and defense officials at the deputy director general level, while the United States and South Korea hold similar talks at the vice-ministerial level.

The three-country consultative body will be an upgrade to the bilateral frameworks currently in place. It will be established on a permanent basis to deepen discussions on nuclear deterrence policy and enhance information sharing on U.S. nuclear capabilities.

Washington has proposed establishing a framework for nuclear deterrence-related training during normal times and a mechanism to determine how to respond in an emergency based on consultations with Tokyo and Seoul.

Who will participate in the body and what specific themes will be tackled are yet to be determined.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s ministerial-level Nuclear Planning Group was established in 1966 during the Cold War to discuss nuclear deterrence. Washington intends to consult with Tokyo and Seoul based on the NATO framework.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Ely Ratner said in a speech on March 2, “We’re in discussions now about … new consultative mechanisms … to better understand our strategic operations and planning and thinking,” regarding nuclear deterrence against North Korea.

There are growing concerns in Japan and South Korea about the reliability of the U.S. nuclear umbrella, amid North Korean threats of short-range tactical nuclear weapons.

Washington has decided it is necessary to establish a new consultative body and demonstrate its firm stance regarding extended deterrence to defend its two allies.

The Japanese government is positively assessing the proposal on the understanding that it will strengthen nuclear deterrence. It is also closely watching the situation regarding lawsuits linked to requisitioned workers from the Korean Peninsula, which has been the biggest issue between Tokyo and Seoul.

Following the South Korean government’s announcement of a resolution plan on Monday, Tokyo thinks the environment for strengthening security cooperation among the three nations is getting closer.