From Hoover Institution Fellow Herb Lin:
The United States and South Korea (the “U.S.-ROK alliance”) generally conduct two major military exercises throughout the year: the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercise in the fall (now underway until August 31, 2017) and the Foal Eagle-Key Resolve exercise in the spring. North Korea regularly complains about these exercises.
Russia and China have suggested that North Korea declare a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests while the U.S.-ROK alliance refrains from large-scale military exercises. Some call this proposal a “dual freeze.” At least one prominent defense analyst, Michael O’Hanlon at Brookings, has said that the arrangement is worth serious consideration. An important South Korean academic has made similar comments.
Is a dual freeze in U.S. and South Korean interests? Unconditional roll-back to a non-nuclear North Korea is obviously preferable. But short of a truly horrific war, that seems unlikely to happen. So the premise of this piece is that North Korea will not give up its nuclear and missile capabilities, and that a freeze on U.S.-ROK large-scale military exercises is the price that will have to be paid to freeze North Korea’s capabilities in place.