South Korea and the United States have agreed to implement a three-stage pre-emptive strike program designed to deter a possible nuclear attack by North Korea, using precision guided munitions, sources said Monday.
The sources said on condition of anonymity that the program will be applied to three possible situations ― when the North threatens to use its nuclear weapons, when a nuclear attack appears imminent and when it actually uses such weapons.
The move comes after Pyongyang pushed ahead with its fifth nuclear test, Sept. 9, during which it allegedly detonated a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can be fitted on a ballistic missile.
The sources said the two sides decided that the North's nuclear threats have become a reality and agreed to implement their three-step strategy that had been discussed at a conceptual stage. They say it is meaningful in that an operational concept is becoming an actual plan of operation that will be applied to real situations.
The allies are expected to discuss details of the program during their annual Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) scheduled for next month in Washington.
Under the three-step strategy, allies would deploy Washington's nuclear forces as well as conventional weapons on and around the Korean Peninsula if the North threatens to launch a nuclear attack. When Pyongyang's nuclear attack appears imminent, allies would launch pre-emptive strikes using guided missiles on the North's nuclear facilities and prepare to launch a nuclear strike on Pyongyang.
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