South Korea prepares to counter North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats

South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol has ordered an update to the military’s operational plans, aimed at countering North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats.

Yoon said he wanted updated plans this week while visiting a military bunker that would serve as a command post in the event of a war. The announcement coincided with the start of military drills by the armed forces of South Korea and the U.S. this week.

The annual summertime exercises are due to be completed on 1st September.

This year’s drills were conducted under a new scenario, with its operational plans reflecting North Korea’s evolving threats, Yoon noted, telling military commanders, “We need to urgently prepare measures to guarantee the lives and property of our people, including updating the operational plans against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats that are becoming a reality.”

This week, officials in Seoul said that after conducting an unprecedented number of missile tests this year, North Korea is ready to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017.

After South Korea and the U.S. began preliminary training for the summer drills, which have long been criticized by North Korea as a “hostile policy” and a rehearsal for invasion, the North Korean military fired two cruise missiles from the west coast last week.

Yoon, who has pledged to conduct more drills and increase overall readiness, said he will aim to improve the military’s independent capability to counter North Korean missiles, as well as reinforce the extended U.S. deterrence, including its nuclear umbrella.

He also ordered South Korean commanders to accelerate the setting up of the “Kill Chain” system, which, if an imminent attack is detected, will launch preemptive strikes against North Korea’s missiles and its senior leadership.