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LANL hosts U.S., South Korean deterrence exercise

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A joint exercise gets underway Thursday at Los Alamos National Laboratory which will look at various response scenarios to ongoing nuclear threats from North Korea.

U.S. and South Korean defense and diplomatic experts will conduct a tabletop exercise examining nuclear deterrence on the Korean Peninsula, a Pentagon official told reporters Wednesday.

LANL is playing host to 40 U.S. and South Korean officials for the extended exercise, which will look at deterrence methods in response to a nuclear threat scenario, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

Lab officials were unavailable for comment on how long the joint exercises will be taking place or who the representatives are from each participating country.

This is the second exercise of its type. The first was at U.S. Strategic Command in 2011. It is conducted under the auspices of a bilateral committee formed in late 2010 to discuss alliance response in the event of a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Little said.

Exercise participants will look at concepts, crisis decision-making and the requirements of employing extended deterrence assets in response to a nuclear threat scenario, he said.

“The exercise demonstrates that extended deterrence for the ROK is credible, capable, and enduring, by fostering the joint study of deterrence challenges and by identifying opportunities for cooperation and collaboration,” Little said.

The exercise supports the development of the tailored bilateral deterrence strategy against North Korean nuclear and weapons of mass destruction threats, and demonstrates the “unwavering” U.S. commitment to South Korea, said Army Maj. Cathy Wilkinson, a Pentagon Press Office spokesperson. The idea, she said, is to maintain credible and effective deterrence on the Korean Peninsula.

The exercise has nothing to do with current tensions created by North Korea attempting to launch a satellite, Wilkinson said.

Any North Korean missile launch is a provocative act that runs counter to United Nations Security Council resolutions, she said. The resolutions require Pyongyang to stop all ballistic missile programs and to reestablish a moratorium on missile launches, Wilkinson said.

Jim Garamone with the American Forces Press Service contributed to this report.