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2020 seen as important year for S. Korea-U.S. alliance; N. Korea's denuclearization
Updated: 2020-01-08 16:47:48 KST
On the defense front, 2020 is expected to be an important year for the South Korea-U.S. alliance considered an essential pillar in achieving a final, fully, verified denuclearization of North Korea.
Dissatisfied with the outcome of denuclearization talks with the U.S. during the past year North Korea is expected to reveal its "new path" while portending major provocations through its "new strategic weapon."
Experts had said the weapon could be an inter-continental ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads, a submarine-launched ballistic missile the launching of satellites or to rescind a moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests.

"It seems that both North Korea and the U.S. have already pursued separate paths, with the North focused on advancing its nuclear weapons capability, while the U.S. stands firm in maintaining economic sanctions on the regime."

Apart from the level of threat, the timing of the North's provocation has also been highly speculated in defense circles with the Pentagon reportedly stating North Korea may conduct some form of provocation early this year perhaps at around the birthday of the late former leader Kim Jong-il on February 16th.
Meanwhile, multiple sources from the South Korean military have said the U.S. drone strike of Iran's top commander General Qassem Soleimani conducted last week could be a critical factor for North Korea in masterminding its weapons testing.
The episode has certainly become an unexpected variant to Seoul which has been contemplating ways to participate in a mission to ensure the freedom of navigation in the geopolitically important Strait of Hormuz upon Washington's request.
This came after the two sides were at loggerheads on a number of contentious issues during last year, with one of them being the
role of the U.S.-led United Nations Command on the Korean peninsula with many believing the U.S. intends to maintain its military authority even after Washington completes the transfer of wartime operational control to Seoul.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.
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