Building on the May 2022 summit statement by President Yoon Suk Yeol and President Joseph R. Biden to reactivate the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG), the foreign affairs and defense agencies of the two countries held the 4th annual high-level EDSCG meeting at the Vice Minister/Under Secretary level on September 15, 2023, in Seoul, the first EDSCG meeting held in the Republic of Korea. ROK First Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Chang Hojin and ROK Vice Minister of National Defense Shin Beomchul led the ROK delegation. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Bonnie Jenkins and Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Sasha Baker headed the U.S. delegation.
This fourth meeting of the EDSCG advanced U.S. and ROK comprehensive discussions on strategy and policy issues to strengthen Alliance deterrence on the Korean Peninsula and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Both sides shared their assessments and concerns about the DPRK’s threatening and irresponsible rhetoric and behavior, including its ongoing missile launches and continued pursuit of destabilizing and illicit WMD and ballistic missile programs. Participants reaffirmed the commitment of both nations to use all available levers—including diplomatic, informational, military, and economic tools—to strengthen deterrence and reinforce the U.S. security commitment to the ROK.
Participants examined the recent progress the United States and the ROK have made to strengthen extended deterrence, including through the April 2023 Washington Declaration and successful establishment of the ROK-U.S. Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) in July. The United States and the Republic of Korea reviewed their on-going bilateral cooperation to deter DPRK nuclear and non-nuclear aggression and thus to enhance security on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, and discussed various measures to further strengthen the Alliance’s deterrence and defense posture. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the complete denuclearization of the DPRK in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. They emphasized that the DPRK’s unprecedented number of ballistic missile launches, including multiple intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), and space launches using ballistic missile technology seriously undermine regional and global security. The two sides agreed to further enhance coordination to address DPRK sanctions evasion and illicit cyber activities, using diplomatic, informational, military, and economic tools. The United States reiterated its strong support for the goals of the ROK’s Audacious Initiative. Both sides recognized the importance of the strategic use of information for enhancing deterrence. The United States and ROK expressed their strongest concern about DPRK-Russia cooperation inconsistent with UNSC resolutions, and discussed its implications for DPRK’s attempts to advance its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as well as the threat posed by DPRK assistance to Russia’s war effort in Ukraine. Both sides agreed on the importance of upholding and fully implementing all relevant UNSC resolutions.
In the context of mounting DPRK threats to regional stability, in part facilitated by third parties’ shielding of the DPRK from consequences for its brazen UNSCR violations, the United States underlined its ironclad and unwavering security commitment to the Republic of Korea, using the full range of U.S. defense capabilities, including nuclear, conventional, missile defense, and other advanced non-nuclear capabilities, to provide extended deterrence for the ROK. Both sides reaffirmed that any nuclear attack by the DPRK against the ROK will be met with a swift, overwhelming, and decisive response. The U.S. side also reiterated that any nuclear attack by the DPRK against the United States or its allies is unacceptable and will result in the end of the Kim regime.
As bilateral cooperation on extended deterrence is advancing rapidly, the participants affirmed the importance of high-level policy and strategic coordination. The EDSCG, mutually complementary with other alliance bodies, will facilitate a strategic whole-of-government approach to strengthen U.S. and ROK extended deterrence cooperation and thus to enhance security on the Korean Peninsula and promote regional peace and stability. The next high-level EDSCG engagement will be held in 2024.