• The United States "remains very much focused on denuclearization"
  • The official said in case of necessity, the U.S. will deploy “ strategic assets” to the Korean Peninsula
  • The official also called South Korea “a respected friend” and a “trusted partner"

Hours after North Korea suspended plans to increase military pressure on South Korea, a senior Pentagon official stated that the United States is focused on denuclearizing Pyongyang.

During a webinar hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank based in Washington D.C., David Helvey, the acting assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, said, “Our policy remains very much focused on denuclearization. It's a denuclearization that we believe can only realistically be obtained through a diplomatic process. I mean, that's certainly our strong, strong preference."

Political tensions between North and South Korea have been on a rise after Pyongyang showed its displeasure over anti-North Korean leaflets that were repeatedly sent by defectors and activists from South Korea. Tensions escalated after North Korea destroyed a joint liaison office used for diplomatic talks. On June 23, Pyongyang backed away from plans to increase military pressure against the South.

Hours later, Helvey stated that North Korea’s recent provocations against Seoul have emphasized the significance of maintaining a strong readiness posture between the United States and South Korea.

"Korea remains the hardest of hard targets. It's hard to determine tactically what North Korea is going to do on a day to day basis, even though I think we'd all agree that strategically, North Korea, particularly under Kim Jong Un, is very predictable and understandable,” he said.

Reasserting Washington’s “ironclad” security commitment to Seoul, the official suggested that in case of necessity, the U.S. will deploy “strategic assets” to the Korean Peninsula. Strategic assets usually refer to warplanes, aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered submarines.

There are "capabilities that are on the peninsula and the capabilities that we would bring to the peninsula in the event of a crisis,” he said.

Calling South Korea “a respected friend” and a “trusted partner,” Helvey said, “It has a tremendous capacity to be able to do good. And so we'd like to be a partner in that. And we'd like to support that.”

The Pentagon is seen in this file picture. TPSdave/Pixabay