Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pentagon Official: N. Korean Threats Further Isolate N. Korea

By Claudette Roulo

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2013 – The newest threats by North Korea follow a well-worn pattern designed to raise tensions and intimidate others, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

According to news reports out of North Korea this week, long-range artillery and strategic rocket units have been ordered to prepare to deploy.

The United States is concerned by any activities on the Korean Peninsula that could raise tensions, Little said in a meeting with reporters.

“It's not just artillery,” he noted. “North Korea has nuclear capabilities, so the full range of their arsenal is of concern to the United States and to our South Korean allies.”

North Korea's threats help no one, Little said, and serve only to further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in the region.

The decision earlier this month to place 14 additional ground-based interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., was based in large part on growing threats from North Korea, Little said.

"It's not just artillery. N. Korea has nuclear capabilities …"

In addition to the recent mobilization order, in recent months North Korea has conducted nuclear testing, placed a satellite into orbit and continued development of its intercontinental missile program.

"The facts are that the North Koreans are developing their missile capabilities in violation of international law and norms of international behavior,” Little said, “and they need to stop.”

The chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. general who commands the U.S.-Republic of Korea Combined Forces Command announced March 24 that they had signed a combined plan to counter threats from North Korea. The classified agreement is led by the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff and supported by U.S. Forces Korea, Little said.

The agreement is part of a robust architecture supporting a larger joint planning effort that has been under way for some time, he added.

“We are moving forward to take new steps on a combined command and control structure for the [U.S.-South Korea] alliance,” Little said. The counter-provocation plan serves as a representation of the continued development of strategic, operational and tactical cooperation, he said.

"It improves our combined readiness posture and allows immediate and decisive response to any North Korean provocation,” Little added.

“It's very important that we do everything we can to stabilize the peninsula and not take rhetoric to where it shouldn't go,” he said, “and that's what the North Koreans are doing right now, and that should cease."

The United States takes everything the North Korean government says and does seriously, Little said.

“We continue to urge North Korean leadership to heed the president's call to choose a path of peace and to come into compliance with North Korea's international obligations,” he added.

American Forces Press Service