In his first official visit to the Yongsan Army Garrison, the newly elected president met with Gen. Vincent Brooks, who commands about 28,000 US forces stationed on the peninsula. Before the Tuesday meeting, Moon called for increased security cooperation with the US, according to Stars and Stripes. The liberal South Korean president campaigned on de-escalating tensions with Pyongyang by increasing commerce and allowing citizens in both countries to communicate with one another.
Now, he appears to have pivoted his focus back toward Washington.
“Ultimately, we must find a way to fundamentally resolve North Korea’s nuclear missile threat and maintain peace,” the South Korean leader said. “To this end we must further strengthen the Korean-US alliance and maintain a rock-solid combined defense posture.”
“During this time of heightened tensions it is more important than ever to stand with our Korean brothers,” Gen. Brooks said, according to Stars and Stripes.
Moon’s announcement stands in stark contrast to his administration’s decision to suspend further deployment of more units of the controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) while an “environmental assessment” is conducted. Two anti-missile installments have already been installed, put in place in the middle of the night on a golf course 135 miles from Seoul despite protests by thousands of South Koreans over THAAD itself and US militarism on the Korean Peninsula.
Pyongyang has test fired five missiles since Moon assumed office May 10. Analysts have predicted that at its current pace, North Korea will test another 13 to 14 missiles by the end of the year at a rate of one test every two weeks.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Welle reports that North Korea is preparing to launch its first ever nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile. Analysts believe the North’s scientists have mastered long-range strike capability, but have yet to overcome the hurdle of successfully re-entering a warhead back into the Earth’s atmosphere, “which will probably be the reason for the ICBM launch that the North is planning,” the German paper explained.