S. Korea, U.S. in close consultation to counter N. Korean provocation: ambassador
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States are working closely together to come up with strong and stern measures against any future provocation by North Korea, South Korea's ambassador to the U.S. said Thursday, amid speculation that Pyongyang may conduct a nuclear test at any time.
Amb. Cho Tae-yong reaffirmed the possibility of additional provocations by the North.
"As you may know, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is very serious. North Korea recently escalated tension by staging missile launches and artillery firing while putting the blame on South Korea and the U.S.," the ambassador said while meeting with reporters.
"We cannot rule out the possibility of North Korea conducting a nuclear test, launching an intercontinental ballistic missile or engaging in other provocations using conventional weapons," Cho added.
Pyongyang fired nearly a dozen ballistic missiles in less than three weeks from late September, bringing the total number of ballistic missiles launched this year to 44, the largest number ever fired in a single year, according to U.S. officials.
State department spokesperson Ned Price said earlier this week that the North may also conduct what will be its seventh nuclear test "at any point."
Cho said the allies are working to strengthen the U.S. extended deterrence while discussing ways to deal with a potential North Korean nuclear test.
"South Korea and the U.S. are continuing their close cooperation while closely consulting on ways to strengthen the extended deterrence, so that they can strongly and sternly react against North Korean provocations," the South Korean diplomat said.
Seoul and Washington held their first high-level dialogue on extended deterrence, known as the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG), in five years last month, agreeing to take a "strong, whole-of-government response" against future North Korean nuclear tests.
North Korea conducted its sixth and last nuclear test in September 2017.
Cho said the allies will continue their close consultations when South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup visits Washington next week for an annual Security Consultative Meeting.
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