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Full text of 47th ROK-U.S. Joint Communique

| Nov. 1, 2015

1. The 47th Republic of Korea (ROK) and United States (U.S.) Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) was held in Seoul on Nov. 2, 2015. ROK Minster of National Defense Han Min-koo and U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter led their respective delegations, which included senior defense and foreign affairs officials. Before the SCM, the ROK Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Lee Sun-jin and the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford Jr. presided over the 40th ROK-U.S. Military Committee Meeting (MCM) on Nov. 1, 2015.

 

2. The minister and the secretary reaffirmed the commitment of the ROK and U.S. presidents to continue to build a comprehensive strategic alliance of bilateral, regional and global scope based on common values and mutual trust, as set forth in the June 2009 "Joint Vision for the Alliance of the Republic of Korea and the United States of America" and reiterated in the May 2013 "Joint Declaration in Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States of America," and the 2015 Joint Fact Sheet, the "Republic of Korea-United States Alliance: Shared Values, New Frontiers." They also reaffirmed that the scope and level of alliance cooperation should continue to broaden and deepen by strengthening the combined defense posture on the Korean Peninsula and enhancing cooperation for regional and global security in the 21st century, as reflected in the "ROK-U.S. Defense Cooperation Guidelines" signed at the 42nd SCM in 2010. Against this backdrop, the minister and the secretary noted that the efforts of the "Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD)" significantly advance alliance objectives by providing high-level political oversight and coordinating and integrating various defense consultation mechanisms between the ROK and the United States. Consequently, they decided to pursue more active bilateral security consultation centered around the KIDD in the future.

 

3. The minister and the secretary reiterated the firm view of the ROK and the United States that North Korea's policies and actions, including its United Nations-proscribed nuclear and ballistic missile programs and proliferation activities, pose a serious threat to regional stability and global security, as well as to the integrity of the global nonproliferation regime. In this regard, the minister and the secretary reaffirmed the commitments set forth in the "2015 Republic of Korea and United States of America Joint Statement on North Korea." The minister and the secretary condemned North Korea's underwater ballistic missile-related ejection test from a submarine on May 8 (local time) as a clear violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions. The minister and the secretary also expressed grave concern over North Korea's recently expressed intent to conduct a long-range missile launch or nuclear test. The minister and the secretary reaffirmed that North Korea should fulfill its commitments under the Sept. 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six Party Talks and abide by its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions 1718, 1874, 2087 and 2094. They also urged North Korea to cease all activities related to its nuclear programs immediately, including its nuclear activities at Yongbyon, such as the operation of the 5MW graphite moderated reactor, uranium enrichment and construction of a light water reactor, and to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner. The minister and the secretary also reaffirmed that the ROK and the United States would continue to cooperate closely to implement fully all UN Security Council resolutions concerning North Korea.

 

4. The minister and the secretary reaffirmed the two nations' mutual commitment to the fundamental mission of the alliance to defend the ROK through a robust combined defense posture, as well as to the enhancement of mutual security based on the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty. The minister and the secretary reaffirmed the need to continue to conduct combined exercises on the peninsula to demonstrate alliance readiness, particularly given the security environment since the sinking of the ROK warship Cheonan and the artillery shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010, the North Korean long-range missile launches in April and December 2012, the third nuclear test in February 2013 and the DMZ provocations in August 2015. The minister and the secretary reaffirmed that any North Korean aggression or military provocation is not to be tolerated and that the ROK and the United States would work shoulder to shoulder to demonstrate our combined resolve. They also reaffirmed that the ROK-U.S. Alliance remains vital to the future interests of both nations in securing peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, and stressed their determination to ensure sufficient capabilities of the combined forces for the security of the ROK. The Secretary reiterated the firm and unwavering U.S. commitment to the defense of the ROK using U.S. forces and capabilities postured on the Korean Peninsula and globally available. In particular, the minister and the secretary reaffirmed that the rotational deployments of U.S. forces with complete combat capabilities demonstrate the U.S. defense commitment to the security of the ROK and also contribute to enhancing the ROK-U.S. combined defense posture on the peninsula. The secretary also reiterated the commitment to maintain the current level of U.S. military personnel in the ROK and to enhance combat readiness.

 

5. The minister and the secretary assessed that the two countries through close collaboration successfully deterred additional provocations following the North Korean DMZ provocations in August and have stably managed the situation. Both countries remain committed to responding jointly and firmly to any future North Korean provocations. The minister and the secretary noted that the two militaries are continuing to develop military plans related to a range of crisis situations on the Korean Peninsula to ensure an effective alliance response. The minister and the secretary reaffirmed the need to continue promoting combined exercises and training events and to enhance combined capabilities in order to be prepared for any North Korean provocation in the vicinity of the Northwest Islands and the Northern Limit Line (NLL). Moreover, noting that the NLL has been an effective means of separating the ROK and North Korean military forces and preventing military tension for more than 60 years, the minister and the secretary urged North Korea to accept the practical value of and abide by the NLL. Additionally, the minister and the secretary reaffirmed that the Armistice Agreement and the United Nations Command remain crucial instruments in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

 

6. The secretary reaffirmed the continued U.S. commitment to provide and strengthen extended deterrence for the ROK using the full range of military capabilities, including the U.S. nuclear umbrella, conventional strike and missile defense capabilities. The minister and the secretary noted with appreciation the launching of the ROK-U.S. Deterrence Strategy Committee (DSC), which seeks to ensure that extended deterrence for the ROK remains credible, capable and enduring to enhance the deterrence and response capabilities of the alliance against North Korea's nuclear, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile threats, and to promote information sharing and interoperability. In addition, the minister and the secretary assessed that the Tailored Deterrence Strategy Table Top Exercise (TTX) contributed to enhancing the alliance's understanding of the Tailored Deterrence Strategy and to preparing political and military response procedures for various situations. The minister and secretary decided to continue to develop further the policies and procedures to implement the Tailored Deterrence Strategy. The ROK and the United States are committed to maintaining close consultation on deterrence matters to achieve tailored deterrence against key North Korean threats and to maximize its deterrent effects. The minister and the secretary noted with appreciation that the two militaries have completed the organization of a ROK-U.S. Combined Division in wartime, with a functioning combined staff during the Armistice and shared an understanding that the Combined Division would serve to enhance the combined combat posture. Assessing that the bilateral counterfire capability certification plan has been completed, the minister and the secretary reaffirmed the commitment to maintain U.S. counterfire forces in their current location north of the Han River until the ROK forces' counterfire capability is certified. Upon certification, the U.S. counterfire forces are to relocate to Camp Humphreys. The minister affirmed that the ROK is continuing to develop ROK counterfire forces capable of executing the mission during the early phases of war by around the year 2020.

 

7. The minister and the secretary approved the implementation guidance on the "Concepts of ROK-U.S. Alliance Comprehensive Counter-missile Operations (4D Operational Concept)" to detect, disrupt, destroy and defend against North Korean missile threats, including nuclear, chemical and biological warheads, and pledged to cooperate for the systematic implementation of the guidance. The minister reaffirmed that the ROK is seeking to develop by the mid-2020s its own Kill-Chain and Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) systems, which will be critical military capabilities for responding to the North Korean nuclear and missile threats, as well as interoperable with alliance systems. The minister and the secretary also decided to enhance information sharing on the North Korean missile threats. The ROK and the United States are committed to maintaining close consultations to develop comprehensive alliance capabilities to counter North Korean nuclear, other WMD and ballistic missile threats.

 

8. The minister and the secretary pledged that the ROK and the United States would continue to enhance close alliance cooperation to address wide-ranging global security challenges of mutual interest, including through peacekeeping activities, stabilization and reconstruction efforts, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Additionally, the minister and the secretary emphasized that the ROK and the United States are continuously developing joint response capabilities through the ROK-U.S. ABLE RESPONSE exercise against various biological threats that may occur on the Korean Peninsula and decided to strengthen cooperation further in the future. The secretary praised the ROK's continuous endeavor toward promoting the peace and stability of the international community, including through counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden, UN peacekeeping missions in Lebanon and South Sudan, as well as Korea Disaster Relief Team activities for combating Ebola in Sierra Leone. The minister and the secretary shared an understanding that the announcements of the U.S. and ROK governments at the Leaders' Summit on peacekeeping would contribute to enhancing UN peacekeeping capabilities. At the summit, the ROK pledged to deploy a future engineering unit and to provide level-two hospital equipment to peacekeeping missions in Africa. The United States announced that it intends to work with the UN to double the number of U.S. military staff officers serving in UN missions, offer logistical support, conduct engineering projects and build the UN's capacity. The minister praised the United States for demonstrating global leadership on addressing global security challenges, such as efforts to counter ISIL. The secretary expressed appreciation for the ROK Government's continued active participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).

 

9. The minister and the secretary reaffirmed the need to strengthen cooperation regarding the space and cyberspace domains, and to promote the security of critical infrastructure, including information and space systems. The minister and the secretary reaffirmed the importance of strengthening mission assurance for space capabilities. To that end they emphasized cooperation in Space Situational Awareness exercises, including related table top exercises, and space operator training. The Minister and the Secretary affirmed the efforts of the U.S.-ROK Cyber Cooperation Working Group to enhance military cyberspace collaboration and decided that the two militaries would take steps to further cooperate on cyberspace and enhance the alliance's capacity to address challenges in cyberspace. The efforts are to include Alliance joint cyber training, exercises and enhancing cyber military education.

 

10. The minister and the secretary received a report on the results of the ROK-U.S. Military Committee Meeting from the Commander of the ROK-U.S. CFC, General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, which highlighted that the combined defense posture is capable and ready to "Fight Tonight" and is prepared to respond effectively to any provocation, instability or aggression.

 

11. The minister and the secretary endorsed and signed the "Conditions-based Operational Control (OPCON) Transition Plan" (COT-P) in accordance with the "Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Korea and the Department of Defense of the United States of America Regarding the Implementation of a Conditions-Based Approach to the Transition of Wartime Operational Control," which was signed at the 46th SCM. The minister and the secretary decided to implement the COT-P faithfully in order to ensure a stable wartime OPCON transition at a proper time.

 

12. The minister and the secretary reaffirmed that U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) relocation and camp returns are in the interests of the ROK and the United States and pledged to work together closely to complete these efforts successfully. The minister and the secretary reaffirmed the commitment to strive together for a timely completion of the Yongsan Relocation Plan (YRP) and Land Partnership Plan (LPP) while minimizing any challenges associated with relocation. The two also decided to continue efforts to consult closely on camp return issues through the Joint Environmental Assessment Procedure (JEAP).

 

13. The minister and the secretary shared their understanding that the "Trilateral Information Sharing Arrangement Concerning the Nuclear and Missile Threats Posed by North Korea among the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Korea, the Ministry of Defense of Japan and the Department of Defense of the United States of America," signed in December 2014, enhances mutual understanding and cooperation among the three sides on North Korean nuclear and missile threats and should increase deterrence capabilities. In this regard, the minister and the secretary reaffirmed the need to promote practical trilateral defense cooperation based on the information sharing arrangement and through regular trilateral defense consultations, such as the Defense Trilateral Talks (DTT).

 

14. The minister and the secretary assessed that defense cost-sharing contributes to strengthening combined defense capabilities on the Korean Peninsula. Secretary Carter offered his appreciation for the ROK's contributions to a stable stationing environment for USFK. Both sides noted with appreciation the efforts to implement faithfully the system improvements that were adopted last year to enhance the transparency and accountability of the Special Measures Agreement (SMA) implementation and committed to continue the faithful implementation.

 

15. With a view to strengthen coordination in ROK-U.S. defense technology strategy and cooperation, the minister and the secretary decided to establish a strategic level Defense Technology Strategy and Cooperation Group co-chaired by the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Defense and the Department of State, with participation from other relevant agencies. Through this group, the two sides will more closely work together on their defense technology strategy and cooperation agenda.