U.S. and South Korean officials have promised to punish North Korea with an “overwhelming response” if it deploys a nuclear weapon, according to multiple reports.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry recently met with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Defense Minister Han Min-koo. During the meeting, Carter explained that a North Korean nuclear strike would not go unpunished.
“We have warned that South Korea will be engulfed in a sea of fire and the U.S. military units in the Pacific region and the mainland will be in chaos if the U.S. wages nuclear strikes against us,” North Korea’s state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper said Wednesday, “Our warning is not an empty word.” North Korea makes threats of this nature on a regular basis.
“Make no mistake: Any attack on America or our allies will not only be defeated, but any use of nuclear weapons will be met with an overwhelming and effective response,” Carter responded.
Yun said that the North Korean threat is “more grave than ever.” He further noted that Pyongyang is “nearing the final stage of nuclear weaponization,” hinting that the need for preparation and action is great.
“The U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea is unwavering. This includes our commitment to provide extended deterrence, guaranteed by the full spectrum of U.S. defense capabilities,” Carter added.
Beyond promising to provide extended deterrence, which refers to the willingness to use conventional and nuclear weapons to defend an ally against a nuclear attack, the “nuclear umbrella,” the U.S. also plans to accelerate the deployment schedule for a missile shield.
“We will deploy as soon as possible a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery to our Korean ally,” Kerry said, promising that the U.S. will do “whatever necessary” to ensure the protection and security of its allies.
There is also the possibility that the U.S. will deploy “strategic assets,” such as nuclear-capable aircraft, to the Korean Peninsula.
On the South Korean side, a three-stage defense strategy is being set up.
Stage one is the “Kill Chain,” which detects moves for a preemptive strike and eliminates North Korean nuclear and missile facilities before a weapon can be fired. Stage two is the Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system, which is designed to intercept incoming missiles. Stage three is the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) plan, which involves using special forces to cripple North Korean assets and eliminate the leadership.
This strategy works with conventional defense systems to ensure that the North cannot turn its southern neighbor into a “sea of fire.”
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