S. Korea, US, Japan Defense Chiefs to Discuss N.K. Sub Threats
How to respond to North Korean submarines carrying ballistic missiles will be top priority at a defense ministers’ meeting involving South Korea, the United States and Japan later this month, officials said Tuesday.
It is part of Seoul’s efforts to boost its capabilities to better detect and counter the communist country’s submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). Pyongyang held a successful SLBM test-fire last week, a significant step forward in developing the offensive capability.
“During the upcoming Shangri-La Dialogue, South Korea, the US and Japan are scheduled to hold a trilateral defense ministers’ meeting and the North’s SLBM is expected to be the priority,” a high-ranking official at Seoul’s Defense Ministry said, citing the annual regional defense ministers’ talks slated for later this month in Singapore.
“If necessary, our minister could sit down for bilateral talks with his Japanese counterpart on the sidelines of the Singapore dialogue. We are carefully considering Japan’s request (for the talks,)” he added.
Despite soured relations over historical issues, Seoul has been working with Japan on security matters. In December, the two Asian counties and the US signed an arrangement to share military intelligence on North Korea’s nuclear and missiles programs.
As part of efforts to boost joint defense posture, Adm. Choi Yun-hee, South Korea’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) held an emergency meeting with US Forces Korea commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti on Tuesday and exchanged views on how to respond to the new security challenges, according to Choi’s office.
Last month, Seoul and Washington also held an initial joint meeting of the Anti-Submarine War Cooperation Committee, involving some 70 officers from both nations. The meeting included discussions on how to secure weapons needed and jointly carry out trainings and analyses in an effective manner, the Seoul official said.
In a move to beef up its anti-submarine capabilities, the South Korean military is devising tailor-made strategies and reviewing diverse options, according to another ministry official.
“The primary concept in responding to the North’s submarines and missiles launched underwater will be based upon the so-called 4-D strategy of detecting, defending, disrupting and destroying North Korean missiles,” the official said.
“In drawing up an operational plan with the US based upon the strategy, we will put more focus on how to reinforce our anti-submarine capabilities,” he said, adding that the plan will involve how to strike underwater targets as well as their bases.
Key precision striking assets include ground-to-ground ballistic missile Hyunmoo, anti-ship missile Haeseong and the patriot 3 (PAC-3) missile.
“We have three Aegis destroyers which will also be deployed in case of an emergency to detect and trace targets as well as to launch a strike against them,” the official said. South Korea is scheduled to build three more 7,600-ton destroyers to bolster defense between 2023 and 2027.
Noting the Seoul military’s plan to introduce another ground-based radar called Green Pine to detect possible SLBM movements, the official added that the country is to develop military reconnaissance satellites and deploy five by 2022. The radar has a range of up to 750 kilometers, Yonhap reported.
“One of six US Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites is monitoring the sky over North Korea round-the-clock as an early-warning system for ballistic missile launches,” the official said.
The military also plans to improve combat and sonar systems in order to better detect the movements of enemies’ submarines, he added.