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SEOUL, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk Yeol called Wednesday for closer security cooperation with the United States to counter North Korea's missile and nuclear threats.
Yoon told an interview with The Associated Press that South Korea and the U.S. have been in discussions on joint planning involving U.S. nuclear assets, in the face of the North's nuclear threat.
"The discussions are under way over the so-called joint planning and joint execution, and I think it's right for South Korea and the United States to cooperate, because both of us are exposed to the North Korean nuclear threat," Yoon was quoted as saying.
Yoon said the discussions with the U.S. include "tabletop exercises, computer simulations and drills ... on delivery means for nuclear weapons."
North Korea conducted a record number of ballistic missile tests last year, and many analysts predicted Pyongyang could conduct a nuclear test this year.
Last month, five North Korea drones entered Seoul's airspace, prompting South Korea's Air Force to try to shoot down them and scramble fighter jets.
On the North's repeated provocations, Yoon said, "North Korea could have its own internal reasons, but there's no way for our country or any other country to know exactly why they are conducting such provocations."
"These unlawful North Korean provocations can only result in the strengthening of (South Korea's) security response capabilities and a further strengthening of the security cooperation between South Korea, the United States and Japan," Yoon was quoted as saying.
With Russia's invasion of Ukraine approaching a grim 11-month milestone, Yoon said it could send the wrong signals to North Korea unless the war is swiftly ended.
"If the conflict (in Ukraine) isn't resolved swiftly, it could send a message to North Korea that the international community would fail to respond to an act of invasion with the appropriate sanctions or punishment, and that message would further encourage the North to conduct provocations," Yoon was quoted as saying.
Yoon also supported Ukraine's fight against Russia, calling the invasion "unlawful and illegitimate."
However, Yoon voiced objection to directly arming Ukraine, citing Korean laws and public opinion.
It was Yoon's fourth interview with foreign media since he took office.