By DoD News
By C. Todd Lopez
The North Koreans on Wednesday launched another ballistic missile over the waters to its east, alarming South Korea, Japan and the United States.
The launch is the 14th this year and is part of an effort by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to speed up development of its own nuclear capability so it can hold at risk those it perceives as adversaries.
During a press briefing Thursday, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby told reporters that this morning, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III talked with Republic of Korea Minister of National Defense Suh Wook via telephone to discuss both the missile launch and other defense issues.
“The two leaders strongly condemned yesterday’s ballistic missile launched by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which they noted threatens the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the Indo-Pacific region,” Kirby said. “They committed to close cooperation to enhance the U.S./ROK alliance, deterrence and defense posture.”
Kirby also said Austin reaffirmed the ironclad commitment the U.S. has to the defense of the South Korea, which leverages the full range of U.S. military capabilities, to include “extended deterrent capabilities.”
Next week, on May 10, Yoon Suk-yeol will assume the role of president of South Korea from incumbent Moon Jae-in. As a result of the change in administration, Suh will leave his position as minister of national defense — a position he’s held since September 2020.
“The secretary also congratulated the minister on his successful tenure as Minister of National Defense, noting that the alliance had in fact been strengthened under Suh’s leadership,” Kirby said.
According to a press release from U.S. Forces Korea, Suh had served previously as ROK Army chief of staff, chief director of operations for the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff, and commanding general of First Corps and 25th Infantry Division.