The United States and South Korea signed a new strategy to deter North Korea's possible use of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction amid growing threats from Pyongyang, their defence chiefs said on Wednesday.
The defence ministers also agreed to review the timing of the transfer of war-time command control of their combined forces on the Korean peninsula from the US military to South Korea, a joint statement issued after their meeting said.
The transfer is scheduled to take place in December 2015, but there have been calls in South Korea for it to be postponed while North Korea continues to push ahead with its nuclear weapons and long-range missile programmes.
"Of particular concern are North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, its proliferation activities, and its chemical weapons," US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told a joint news conference with South Korea's Kim Kwan-jin.
"Given these concerns, as Minister Kim noted, today we signed a bilateral strategy for tailored deterrence against the threat of North Korean nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction," he said.
The ministers did not give any immediate indication of what the "tailored deterrence" strategy might entail, despite questions from the media.
North Korea conducted its third nuclear test in February, two months after successfully launching a long-range rocket that put an object, which Pyongyang says was a satellite, into space.
The launch resulted in tougher UN sanctions against the impoverished and isolated North.
That rocket launch was widely seen as a test of its long-range missile capabilities, despite Pyongyang's claims that it was part of its peaceful space project. – Reuters