The U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense are scheduled to visit South Korea this week due to escalating concerns over North Korea’s preparations for launching a reconnaissance satellite with support from Russia.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to visit South Korea for two days starting Wednesday, following his participation in a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Tokyo, which will take place from Tuesday to Thursday. At the same time, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is also set to visit South Korea later this week.
The visits of these high-ranking U.S. officials come at a crucial time as the United States aims to reinforce its commitment to the South Korea-U.S. alliance, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. In addition, the U.S. is expected to emphasize its dedication to strengthening “extended deterrence” against North Korea’s missile launches and nuclear threats.
Both South Korea and the U.S. have already taken significant steps in this direction. This was reflected in the Washington Declaration signed by President Yoon Suk Yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden during their summit in April. The declaration outlined measures to enhance extended deterrence, including the establishment and operation of the South Korea-U.S. Nuclear Consultative Group and the regular deployments of U.S. strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula.
During the upcoming visits of Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin, discussions will focus on evaluating the progress of this cooperation and coordinating the future direction of military collaboration between South Korea and the U.S., as well as with Japan.
South Korean military authorities are closely monitoring the possibility of North Korea’s third attempt to launch a reconnaissance satellite, which could happen as early as this month. North Korea had attempted to launch satellites in May and August of this year, but both attempts failed. It is speculated that North Korea and Russia might have engaged in arms trade following a rare summit between their respective leaders in September.