South Korea's biennial defense white paper omitted references to North Korea as an "enemy" state for the second time in two years, while referring to Japan as a "neighboring country" but no longer a "close neighbor and partner."
Meanwhile, U.S. State Secretary Tony Blinken said additional sanctions could be used on North Korea in coordination with U.S. allies as a way toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Other tools, he said, include unspecified diplomatic incentives.
All things related to North Korea, let's go in-depth on Reading between North Korean lines with Dr. Go Myong-hyun.
Dr. Go, great to see you again.
Let's start with South Korea's defense white paper. According to the biennial report, North Korea now has 13 missile brigades under its strategic force command, up from 9 units reported back in 2018.
These units are believed to operate short-range meaning, they aim to strike South Korean targets.
It's also beefed up its special warfare unit that has been training with full-sized mockups of strategic facilities and locations in South Korea including the Blue House.
Now, amidst stalled denuclearization talks with the U.S. and chilled inter-Korean relations how are we supposed to take this information?
The paper omitted references to North Korea as an "enemy" state for the second time in two years and referred to Japan only as a "neighboring country" and no longer a "close neighbor and partner" as it had in previous years. Make sense out of this for us.
If my memory serves me right this is the first time that Seoul's white paper has publicly disclosed its analysis of North Korea's military capacity. Why?
Will this impact South Korea-U.S. comprehensive operation to counter North Korea's missile threats the so-called "4D strategy" of detect, disrupt, destroy and defend?
On this note, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary nominee Kathleen Hicks was questioned about how the U.S.' current national missile defense system may not be adequate against threats from the various missiles possessed by Russia or China.
Her response was that "the relationship between the U.S. missile defense and the U.S. nuclear arsenal is complementary," adding that both aim to deter attack against the U.S., as a means of presenting a credible threat of retaliation - namely against North Korea and Iran.
Hicks saying that as Deputy Defense Secretary nominee she would work to improve the national missile defense system
This comes as missile threats posed by China is increasing does this mean the U.S. will join in on developing their nuclear arsenal as well?
Meanwhile U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken said that the U.S. is looking for optimal ways to advance the denuclearization process in North Korea, and the overall "growing problems" that come of the North's nuclear weapons development.
While additional sanctions haven't been ruled out, Blinken laid emphasis on diplomatic incentives.
The Biden administration will be reviewing the U.S.'s approach and policy on North Korea to find ways to bring the North back to the negotiating table
What kind of diplomatic incentives could the Biden administration propose that could possibly serve as effective tools to make such advancements?
President Moon's Foreign Minister nominee in a written statement to parliament today said the 'End of War' on the Korean peninsula or Peace Declaration is part of the denuclearization process and that he plans to reignite the Korean Peninsula Peace Process by discussing the End of War declaration.
Now, what does he mean by this and how do you expect this to be received by the North Koreans as well as the Biden administration?
President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshide Suga in their first phone conversation last week reportedly discussed North Korean denuclearization as well as on the need for Seoul and Tokyo to improve relations. The U.S. president has yet to speak to President Moon. What do you make out of this?
Dr. Go Myong-hyun, senior North Korean analyst many thanks as always for your insights and expertise. We appreciate it.