NATO chief stresses continued need for U.S. ‘extended deterrence’ against N.K. threats

SEOUL– North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday highlighted the importance of the United States’ extended deterrence for South Korea, saying it has an “extremely important task” amid Pyongyang’s growing nuclear threats.

Stoltenberg made the remarks during an event in Seoul hosted by the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies, responding to a question on the sensitive issue of whether Seoul needs a nuclear-sharing policy with the U.S., akin to NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group.

“I think it’s important to understand that what we call extended deterrence, meaning that NATO allies and also some NATO partners, like South Korea, they don’t have their own nuclear weapons but are covered by the nuclear deterrence that the United States provides. That is where to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons,” he said.

He also stressed NATO will “remain a nuclear alliance” as long as nuclear weapons exist, saying the world will be more dangerous if NATO allies, including the U.S. and France, get rid of their nuclear weapons amid nuclear threats from Russia, China and North Korea.

“So we think that as long as nuclear weapons exist, especially as long as we see that authoritarian powers are having them in Russia and investing heavily in mobilizing them, as we see what China is doing, increasing the number of weapons on the range and also what North Korea is doing, then nuclear deterrence still has an extremely important task to fulfill,” he said.

Later in the day, Stoltenberg met with South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup to discuss regional security and bilateral cooperation.

Lee expressed his appreciation for NATO’s condemnation of past North Korean provocations and its support for Seoul’s efforts for peace on the Korean Peninsula, according to the defense ministry.

Stoltenberg said the North’s nuclear program and its missile provocations are a breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a significant threat to global peace, while pledging to continue NATO’s backing of Seoul’s peace endeavors.

The two sides also agreed to work together to strengthen communication for potential areas of new cooperation, such as defense science and technology, according to the ministry.

Stoltenberg arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a two-day visit and is set to depart for Japan later in the day.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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