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S. Korea, U.S. announce nuclear drills amid N. Korean military activity

South Korea and the United States will stage tabletop exercises in Washington next week to improve operations of American nuclear assets as part of efforts to better counter North Korea’s threats, Seoul’s defense ministry announced on Friday.

The drills, called the Deterrence Strategy Committee Tabletop Exercise, are scheduled for February 22 at the Pentagon and will involve senior defense policy makers from both sides, the ministry said.

It would be their first such exercises since the two countries agreed last year to hold them annually, as Seoul seeks to bolster confidence in American extended deterrence – its military capability, especially nuclear forces, to deter attacks on its allies.

The South Korean delegation will be led by Deputy Defence Minister Heo Tae-keun. The U.S. team will be led by Siddharth Mohandas, deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia and Richard Johnson, deputy assistant defense secretary for nuclear and countering weapons of mass destruction policy.

“With a focus on North Korea’s nuclear threats, both sides will have in-depth discussions on various measures to strengthen U.S. extended deterrence, including information sharing and consultation procedures,” the ministry said in a statement.

On February 23, the officials will visit the Kings Bay naval base in Georgia that houses key nuclear submarines.

The allies have said they were working to boost joint nuclear planning and implementation as well as information sharing.

Nuclear-armed North Korea fired an unprecedented number of missiles last year, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could strike anywhere in the United States, while resuming preparations for its first nuclear test since 2017.

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