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Joint Communiqué Between the U.S. and South Korea, Security Consultative Meeting, October 2012

Published October 24, 2012

This joint communiqué Between the U.S. and South Korea was affirmed by delegations led by U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and South Korean Minister of National Defense Kim, at the 44th Security Consultative Meeting in Washington DC on October 24, 2012.

The 44th United States – Republic of Korea (U.S.-ROK) Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) was held in Washington D.C. on October 24, 2012. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and ROK Minister of National Defense Kim, Kwan Jin led their respective delegations, which included senior defense and foreign affairs officials. Before the SCM, the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey, and the ROK Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Jung, Seung Jo, presided over the 36th U.S.-ROK Military Committee Meeting (MCM) on October 23, 2012.

The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed the commitment of the U.S. and ROK Presidents to build a comprehensive strategic Alliance of bilateral, regional, and global scope based on common values and mutual trust, as set forth in the June 2009 Joint Vision for the Alliance of the United States of America and the Republic of Korea and reiterated at the U.S.-ROK Summit held on March 25, 2012 during the second Nuclear Security Summit. They also reaffirmed that the scope and level of Alliance cooperation should continue to broaden and deepen by strengthening the combined defense posture on the Korean Peninsula and enhancing cooperation for regional and global security in the 21st century, as reflected in the U.S.-ROK Defense Cooperation Guidelines signed at the 42nd SCM in 2010. Furthermore, as 2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-ROK Alliance, which was forged by the signing of the U.S.-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty in 1953, the Secretary and the Minister noted the development and progress of the Alliance over the last 60 years, and decided to initiate long-term strategic planning, including a joint study on the long-term defense vision of the Alliance.

The Secretary and the Minister reiterated the firm view of the United States and the Republic of Korea that North Korea's policies and provocations, including its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and proliferation activities, pose a serious threat to regional stability and global security. In this regard, the Secretary and the Minister welcomed the United Nations (UN) Security Council's clear determination to take action in the event of another North Korean missile launch or nuclear test, as underscored in the April 16, 2012 Presidential Statement of the UN Security Council. The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed that North Korea should fulfill its commitments under the 2005 Joint Statement and abide by its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874. They also urged North Korea to cease all activities related to its nuclear programs immediately, and to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs, including its uranium enrichment program and light water reactor construction. The Secretary and the Minister also reaffirmed that the United States and the Republic of Korea would continue to cooperate closely on the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874 as well as bilateral sanctions against North Korea.

The Secretary and the Minister noted the ROK's revision to the 2001 Missile Guidelines, and shared their common view that the "Revised Missile Guidelines" (RMG), which enable the ROK to enhance missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, is a key component of a comprehensive approach to an Alliance counter-missile strategy. In this context, the Minister reaffirmed that the ROK will continue to improve deterrent and defensive capabilities against North Korean missile threats, including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and Korean air and missile defense capabilities, and to enhance the interoperability of the Alliance's command and control system. The United States and the ROK are committed to maintaining close consultation to develop comprehensive Alliance capabilities to counter North Korean weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threats.

The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed the need to conduct combined exercises on the Peninsula to demonstrate Alliance readiness, particularly given the security environment since the sinking of the ROK warship CHEONAN and the artillery shelling of Yeon-pyeong Island in 2010, the recent leadership change in North Korea, and the North Korean long-range missile launch in April 2012. They reaffirmed that any North Korean aggression or military provocation is not to be tolerated and that the United States and the Republic of Korea would work shoulder-to-shoulder to demonstrate our combined resolve. Both the Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed their commitment to develop further the Alliance's deterrent capability for the defense of the Korean Peninsula, led by the Republic of Korea and supported by the United States. Against this backdrop, they noted that the efforts of the Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD), which was established at the 43rd SCM, greatly contributes to ensuring harmonized progress toward Alliance objectives by coordinating and integrating various defense consultation mechanisms between the United States and the ROK, and providing high-level political oversight. Consequently, the Secretary and the Minister decided to pursue more active bilateral security consultation centered around the KIDD in the future.

The Secretary and the Minister noted the efforts of the two militaries to develop shared concepts and principles of a bilateral military response to North Korean provocations and develop an effective U.S.-ROK Counter-Provocation Plan based on these concepts and principles. The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed the need to advance the military deterrence capabilities of the Alliance in a more practical and concrete manner, and also to improve response readiness in the event of a North Korean provocation. Furthermore, they decided to increase combined surveillance activities concerning situations in North Korea in order to ensure security during the period following presidential elections and inaugurations in both countries.

The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed the need to continue promoting combined exercises and training events and to enhance combined capabilities in order to be prepared for North Korean provocations in the vicinity of the Northwest Islands and the Northern Limit Line (NLL). Moreover, noting that the NLL has been an effective means of separating the ROK and North Korean military forces and preventing military tension for nearly 60 years, the Secretary and the Minister urged North Korea to accept the practical value of and abide by the NLL. Additionally, the Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed that the Armistice Agreement and the United Nations Command remain crucial instruments in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed the two nations' mutual commitment to the fundamental mission of the Alliance to defend the Republic of Korea through a robust combined defense posture, as well as to the enhancement of mutual security based on the Mutual Defense Treaty. They also reaffirmed that the U.S.-ROK Alliance remains vital to the future interests of both nations in securing peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, and stressed their determination to ensure sufficient capabilities of the combined forces for the security of the Republic of Korea. The Secretary reiterated the firm and unwavering U.S. commitment to the defense of the ROK using both capabilities postured on the Korean Peninsula and globally available U.S. forces and capabilities that can be deployed to augment the combined defense in case of crisis. The Secretary also reiterated the decision to maintain the current U.S. troop level in Korea and to enhance its combat readiness. The Secretary reaffirmed the continued U.S. commitment to provide and strengthen extended deterrence for the ROK, using the full range of military capabilities, including the U.S. nuclear umbrella, conventional strike, and missile defense capabilities. Moreover, the Secretary and the Minister decided to develop a tailored bilateral deterrence strategy through the Extended Deterrence Policy Committee, which serves as a cooperation mechanism to enhance the effectiveness of extended deterrence, particularly against North Korean nuclear and WMD threats. To this end, the Secretary and the Minister approved the joint concepts and principles of tailored deterrence, upon which the bilateral deterrence strategy is to be based.

The Secretary and the Minister pledged that the United States and the ROK will continue to enhance close Alliance cooperation to address wideranging global security challenges of mutual interest, including through peacekeeping activities, stabilization and reconstruction efforts, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief. The Secretary expressed appreciation for the ROK's contributions in Afghanistan, including the deployment of a Provincial Reconstruction Team and financial support. The Secretary also praised the ROK's contributions to Haiti disaster relief operations (2010-2012), counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden, the UN mission in Lebanon, and the decision of the ROK Government to dispatch peacekeeping forces to South Sudan. He also expressed appreciation for the Korean Government's continued active participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). The Secretary and the Minister noted that the PSI activities hosted by the ROK Government last month – the PSI Operational Experts Group (OEG) meeting as well as EASTERN ENDEAVOR 12, which consisted of a table-top exercise and a maritime interdiction exercise – demonstrated the firm will of the international community to prevent the proliferation of WMD and promoted global cooperation in this regard.

The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed the need to strengthen cooperation with respect to protection of, and access to, the space and cyberspace domains, and to promote the resilience of critical infrastructure, including the security of information and space systems. The Secretary and the Minister, noting the increasing need for space cooperation, welcomed the signing of the Terms of Reference (TOR) for bilateral military space cooperation, which includes the creation of a regular consultative body. Based on the TOR, they undertook to consult on issues of mutual interest such as space policy, strategy, training events, and personnel exchange. They welcomed the launch of the U.S.-ROK Cyber Policy Consultations as a "whole-of-government" approach, and also acknowledged that effective bilateral cooperation on cyber-security would require increased cooperation between defense agencies and coordination with the private sector.

The Secretary and the Minister received a report on the results of the U.S.-ROK Military Committee Meeting from the Commander of the U.S.- ROK Combined Forces Command (CFC), General James D. Thurman, which highlighted that the combined defense posture is capable and ready to "Fight Tonight," and that it is prepared to respond effectively to any provocation, instability, or aggression.

The Secretary and the Minister received a report on the results of the U.S.-ROK Security Policy Initiative (SPI) meetings over the past year. They expressed satisfaction that, through close consultations, the United States and the ROK are making significant progress on important Alliance issues, including: ensuring an effective combined defense, enhancing cooperation for regional and global security, proceeding with the implementation of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) relocation and camp returns, and articulating a shared future vision for the Alliance. The Secretary and the Minister pledged to continue SPI consultations in 2013, based on the significant accomplishments of the past eight years and the mutual desire to continue to enhance the U.S.-ROK Alliance.

The Secretary and the Minister acknowledged their comprehensive strategy to strengthen the Alliance in years to come, including achieving the transition of wartime operational control (OPCON) for the combined warfight to the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2015. The transition of OPCON should sustain and enhance the Alliance's combined defense posture and capabilities, and support both the Alliance's bilateral defense priorities and its future development. The Secretary and the Minister also reaffirmed that the implementation of the Strategic Alliance 2015 plan is to be regularly assessed and reviewed at the annual SCM/MCM, paying particular attention to evolving North Korean threats, and reflected in the transition process. In this regard, they further noted the importance of the OPCON Certification Plan in ensuring that the transition is implemented methodically and that the combined defense posture remains strong and seamless.

The Secretary reaffirmed the continuing U.S. commitment to provide specific bridging capabilities until the ROK obtains full self-defense capabilities, and further noted the U.S. commitment to contribute enduring capabilities for the life of the Alliance. Similarly, the Minister reaffirmed that the Republic of Korea is committed to developing or acquiring the critical military capabilities necessary to assume the lead of the combined defense. Moreover, the Secretary and the Minister decided to establish a joint U.S.-ROK working group within the Strategic Alliance 2015 process to continue to refine the future command structure and maximize its military efficiency.

The Secretary and the Minister acknowledged the importance of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) base relocation and camp returns, and committed to work closely together to complete these efforts successfully. The Secretary and the Minister pledged to minimize challenges and strive for completion, as planned, of the Yongsan Relocation Plan (YRP) and Land Partnership Plan (LPP). The two also concurred that the Joint Environmental Assessment Procedure (JEAP) is useful in facilitating bilateral cooperation for camp returns.

The Secretary and the Minister noted that the two militaries have made substantial progress in the development of military preparation plans related to a range of situations on the Korean Peninsula and that these military plans are to ensure an effective Alliance response to potential crises. Minister Kim expressed sincere appreciation to Secretary Panetta for the courtesy and hospitality extended to him and his delegation by the U.S. Government, and for the excellent arrangements that contributed to the success of the meeting. The Secretary and the Minister affirmed that the discussions during the 44th SCM and 36th MCM contributed substantively to strengthening the U.S.-ROK Alliance and further enhanced the development of the bilateral defense relationship into a comprehensive strategic Alliance. Both sides expect to hold the 45th SCM in Seoul, ROK at a mutually convenient time in 2013.

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