S Korea, US map out plan to deter N. Korea nuclear

S Korea, US map out plan to deter N. Korea nuclear

SEOUL - South Korea and the United States have mapped out a joint operational plan which outlines concrete measures to deter and respond to North Korea's nuclear threats, a report said Sunday.

The plan encompasses political, diplomatic and military measures to specify how Washington will provide a nuclear umbrella for South Korea in the case of North Korean nuclear provocations, Yonhap news agency said.

The customised plan will be signed at a security meeting between US and South Korean defence chiefs in early October, it said.

"The deterrence plan can be considered equivalent to an operational plan," a South Korean government source told Yonhap.

"Making an official document detailing the US nuclear umbrella reflects its firm commitment against North Korea's atomic weapons threat," the source was quoted as saying.

No details were given of the defensive and offensive measures included in the plan.

Washington, which has nearly 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea, has pledged such protection for its ally but the new plan will contain more details for Seoul and provide a written commitment.

North Korea has said it will never give up its nuclear power but maintains it is open to direct talks with the United States.

Daniel Russel, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said Friday in Seoul that the North's nuclear programme was a "driver of instability" in the region.

In a separate interview published Sunday, Russel said Washington would not agree to reopen six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programme unless Pyongyang shows a clear willingness to abandon atomic weapons.

Yonhap quoted Russel as saying he was looking for "convincing indications" from North Korea that the six-party forum, if re-convened, would lead to a rapid-paced road map for the North's denuclearisation.

"Those are the signs that North Korea needs to send," he said.

"It's understandable after so many cycles of broken promises by North Korea that the international community would have high standards of evidence with a call on North Korea to make convincing indications of its seriousness and purpose," Russel was quoted as saying.

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