Posted on : Jul.17,2017 19:02 KST
Modified on : Jul.17,2017 19:02 KST
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un observes the final assembly site of the Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), broadcast during a performance commemorating the recent successful launch of the Hwasong-14, on Korean Central Television, July 14. (Yonhap News)
Bill also seeks increased deployment of key US assets, including missile defense systems, long-range strategic bombers
On July 14, the US House of Representatives passed an annual defense policy bill that asks the US government to submit a plan for strengthening joint military exercises, military cooperation and missile defense with allies in response to North Korea‘s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test launch.
The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018 that was passed by the House contained a section proposed by Liz Cheney, representative for Wyoming, that describes a plan to strengthen the US’s capability for expanded deterrence and defense commitments to allies in the Asia-Pacific region. The bill passed with 344 in favor and 81 against, and it must still be revised by the Senate.
The bill says, “The United States and South Korea share deep concerns that the nuclear and ballistic missile programs of North Korea and its repeated provocations pose great threats to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”
For these reasons, the bill instructs the Secretary of Defense to submit a plan for strengthening extended deterrence and defense commitments in consultation with the Pacific Command and the strategic commander within 30 days of the bill becoming law.
According to the bill, this plan should include considerations about increasing joint military exercises, military cooperation and unified defense with allies. Strengthening joint military exercises flies in the face of China’s proposed solution to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue through “simultaneous suspension” of North Korea’s nuclear tests and missile launches and of South Korea and the US‘s joint military exercises.
The bill also asks the government for a plan to increase the conspicuous deployment of key US assets, including missile defense systems, long-range strategic bombers and mid-range bombers. This reflects the attitude of Congress that more military pressure should be put on China and North Korea, but this is likely to only increase tensions in the region.
In addition, the bill asks the government to submit a report about increasing arms sales to allies, planning for drills and deployment of bombers that can carry both nuclear and conventional weapons, and adjusting the strategic nuclear stance, which would include redeploying submarines that can carry cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads.
Along with this, the bill allocates US$12.5 billion to missile defense that is aimed at countering the ballistic missile threat posed by North Korea and Iran. That’s US$2.5 billion more than the amount initially requested by President Donald Trump.
The bill also includes a section that would ban foreign telecommunication firms from working with the Pentagon if they have knowingly aided or abetted cyber attacks carried out on behalf of the North Korean regime or individuals associated with it. But it also gives Trump the authority to suspend these sanctions for national security purposes.
The National Defense Authorization Act serves as a sort of policy guideline for setting the budget. For these requests to be implemented, the government must draft a concrete plan, and the budget must be actually allocated and finalized by Congress’s Committee on Appropriations.
By Yi Yong-in, Washington correspondent
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