Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

US, South Korea agree to strengthen cooperation on North Korea sanctions

Melinda Barton | 03 March, 2017, 01:44

"North Korea continues to launch missiles, develop its nuclear weapons program and engage in threatening rhetoric and behaviour", Mattis said at a press conference in Seoul on Friday.

The experts said they were continuing to investigate a shipment of Scud missile spare parts to Egypt from a North Korean trading company, the reported supply of portable surface-to-air missiles from the North to Mozambique, and North Korea's reported supply of 122-mm guided rockets and aerial missiles to Sudan - among other reports.

Seoul and Washington started their two-month Foal Eagle drill on Wednesday amid high tension sparked by Pyongyang's launch of a new ballistic missile last month. One idea is for the US military to launch a strike on North Korea in order to prevent it from launching an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICMB). Condemning the exercise, Pyongyang alleged that it is a rehearsal to mount an invasion against the North Korean regime.

Pyongyang's warning comes on Thursday (2 March) just a day after South Korean and the U.S. kicked off their annual joint military exercise codenamed Foal Eagle.

Last year's exercises, involving 300,000 South Korean troops and around 17,000 American military personnel backed by warships and warplanes, were billed as the largest-ever.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo spoke on the phone that day, reaffirming that they will fight against any attack on the U.S. or its allies.

Kanasugi also said deterrence against North Korea has been strengthened under the Trump administration.

The US has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea as a deterrent against potential aggression from North Korea.

A South Korean defence ministry official told the Korea Times: "The phone conversation was meant to send a more effective warning to North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile provocations on the occasion of the drills".

Dozens of protestors gathered outside the USA embassy in Seoul on Wednesday protesting the start of the exercises, claiming they would "bring the peninsula sharply closer to the brink of a nuclear war".

The weapon flew about 500 kilometres towards Japan before splashing into the sea east of the Korean peninsula.

National Security Advisor Kim Kwan-jin talked over the phone with his US counterpart Herbert McMaster for the first time. According to the government in Seoul, the missile defense system is set to be operational by the end of the year.

Kim Jong-nam, whom North Korea refers to as Kim Chol, was killed on Feb 13 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) after two women - which Yonhap reported was believed to have been hired by the communist North - allegedly smeared the nerve agent on his face.