The United States has reiterated its commitment to South Korea, promising "overwhelming response" if the country is faced with an attack from its neighbour, North Korea. Also present at the meeting was Secretary of State John Kerry and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.
Ensuring the commitment's implementation was a key focus in Wednesday's "two plus two" talks as well as Thursday's annual defense ministers' talks, known as the Security Consultative Meeting (SCM), amid heightened security concerns in South Korea in the wake of the North's fifth nuclear test and a series of ballistic missile launches.
The Pentagon chief made the remarks while condemning recent the missile test by the DPRK while noting the attempt, "even in failing, violated several UN Security Council resolutions", reports Xinhua. "It affirmed that this latest provocation only strengthens our resolve to work together with our Republic of Korea allies to maintain stability on the peninsula". The term "extended deterrence" refers to the use of USA nuclear force to deter attacks on its allies. "This includes our commitment to provide extended deterrence, guaranteed by the full spectrum of U.S. defence capabilities", Carter said in opening remarks.
Analysts are expecting North Korea to ramp up provocations in line with next month's American presidential election.
Han then said that North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles are akin to "a dagger against our throats".
It comes after US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that any use of nuclear arms by the North would be "met with an effective and overwhelming response".
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"They're conducting these [test] launches and through these failed tests, they've shown their limits", he said adding that North Korea's pursuit of high-profile nuclear weapon drills are purely for "political purposes" and have little chance in resulting in a viable atomic weapon.
"They can fly to Korea in a few hours", said Troy University global relations professor Daniel Pinkston, author of "The North Korean Ballistic Missile Program".
He said defence officials on Thursday would discuss the possibility of deploying U.S. "strategic assets" to the South - an apparent reference to permanently basing nuclear-capable planes or vessels there. What can the U.S.do to stop the authoritarian government from building up a nuclear arsenal that threatens the United States and its allies in Asia?
The US has provided extended deterrence and the "nuclear umbrella" to South Korea after withdrawing nuclear warheads from the country in the early 1990s.
Having already unleashed more than 20 nukes in this year alone, Thursday's launch was the second time in a week cruel Kim has launched a Musudan missile. The South Korean Ministry of National Defense began discussing the idea of rotational deployment with the United States after South Korean conservatives complained that U.S. strategic assets were not being mobilized in a timely manner in response to North Korea's nuclear tests and missile launches.
The missile was believed to be an intermediate-range Musudan and was launched from the western city of Kusong, where the North attempted but failed to launch the same type of missile last Saturday, said the US Strategic Command and South Korea's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.