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[Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-sup’s keynote address at the CFR meeting] “ROK and US will respond sternly to any North K...

In his keynote address at the CFR meeting, Lee clarifies close consultations with US to provide US extended deterrence; shares information on North Korea situation during his visit to National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA); calls on NGA to strengthen cooperation with the ROK military, including satellite images


[Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-sup’s keyno 

Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-sup, visiting the United States (US) to participate in the 54th ROK-US Security Consultative Meeting (SCM), said in a statement that North Korea’s act of launching ballistic missiles on November 2 (local time) is a de-facto violation of South Korea’s territory. Lee also emphasized that the ROK and the US will respond sternly to any North Korean provocations.


Lee made the statement in his keynote address on the ‘situation on the Korean Peninsula and the direction of the ROK defense policy’ at the meeting of experts invited by the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).


“North Korea’s act of launching multiple missiles, including ballistic missiles, and firing artillery shots off its east and west coasts is unprecedented because it is the first invasion of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) since the division of the two Koreas, and a de-facto violation of South Korea’s territory,” Lee assessed.


“The ROK and the US have been responding jointly to North Korean provocations on the basis of a firm combined defense posture. The two countries will respond sternly to any further North Korean provocations,” Lee also emphasized.


As Lee explained, “stability on the Korean Peninsula and stability in the Indo-Pacific region are inseparably connected. North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities, provocations and threats are direct security challenges to peace and stability in Northeast Asia and Indo-Pacific region, as well as on the Korean Peninsula.”


Lee also clarified that our people’s concern is growing over North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons. “Our military is strengthening its own capabilities and both countries are working on close consultations to inspire trust in the fact that the US extended deterrence will work at any moment on the ROK-US alliance level,” Lee added.


“The ministry will back up the government’s efforts with a strong combined defense posture in the process of pushing forward with the principle-based North Korea policy after the announcement of the government’s ‘audacious initiative,’” Lee also clarified.


The CFR experts asked about ways to cooperate to denuclearize North Korea, ways to enhance the capability to carry out the US extended deterrence, security cooperation among the ROK, US, and Japan, and the ROK’s defense industry capabilities, and Lee explained the ministry’s stance.


The CFR is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that was founded in 1921 to advance the American people’s understanding of international relations and foreign policy. This meeting lasted for about 1.5 hours, and consisted of Lee’s keynote address and a question and answer session with the experts.


Prior to the meeting, Lee had a pleasant conversation with Kathleen Stephens, the former US ambassador to the ROK who led the meeting. Lee expressed his thanks for her continued activities for the ROK-US alliance since leaving the post of US ambassador.


Lee also visited the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), an intelligence agency affiliated with the US Department of Defense. He was briefed on the NGA’s facilities and North Korea’s recent nuclear and missile activities.


Lee and Whitworth also exchanged opinions on deterrence and response measures related to ROK-US intelligence cooperation and North Korean threats.


“I express thanks to the NGA, which we call the ‘CIA in the sky,’ for its contribution to deterring any provocations from North Korea, including watching for signs of nuclear and conventional force threats from North Korea and conducting analysis work in close cooperation with the ROK military,” Lee said.


Significantly, Lee emphasized that the ROK-US intelligence cooperation is very important in strengthening the capability to carry out the US extended deterrence to respond to North Korea’s advanced nuclear and missiles. Lee also called on the NGA to “further strengthen cooperation with our military in the areas of the collection of satellite images and analysis,” introducing our military’s spy satellite in a kill chain, part of the Korean three-axis system.


Whitworth said Lee’s visit to the NGA was his first as the ROK’s defense minister and added that “it shows well that the ROK-US intelligence cooperation has been strengthened in a substantive way.”


“The NGA conducts spy missions against North Korea as one of its main missions. The NGA will work to further strengthen cooperation with the ROK military, as the ROK military’s reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities have greatly been improved,” Whitworth added.


Lee and Whitworth shared information related to North Korea’s acts of multiple missile launches and artillery shots, and regarding future North Korean nuclear and missile activities, both sides agreed to continue close cooperation between the intelligence authorities of the two countries.


The two sides also agreed to cooperate closely with each other to maintain a decisive advantage against North Korea in the area of intelligence, a key element of deterrence.

By Hyun-woo, Seo <>

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