‘Pentagon taking every step to combat Pyongyang threat’

PTI Washington | Updated on March 12, 2018

Continuing its campaign against military advances of North Korea, the US has said the threat perception from Pyongyang has increased, but the Pentagon is taking every step to deal with any worst-case scenario.

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, however, noted that there is no need for any immediate action more than the recently announced missile defence system by the US in the wake of military advances by the North ever since the change of regime.

“We don’t have any choice in defending this country but to anticipate worst-case scenarios. We do know the North Koreans have missile capability (and) they have significant capability, and as we think through long-term threats, we have (to) ensure (not only) for short-term but also for long-term,” Hagel said at a news conference.

“These are decision-making processes that evolve based on threats, potential threats. You only needed to be wrong once.

I don’t know what the President, Chairman or Secretary of Defence wants to be wrong once when it comes to nuclear threats,” Hagel said.

A day earlier, Hagel spoke to his South Korean counterpart Kim Kwan Jin to review the security situation.

“This relationship between the US and South Korea is particularly important, at a particularly important time,” he said.

Provocative action

Defending the decision to fly B-2 over South Korean skyline as part of a joint exercise, Hagel refuted reports that this was a provocative action on the part of the US.

“The US and South Korea have not been involved in provocating anything. We, over the years, have been engaged with South Korea on joint exercises. The B-2 flight was part of that,” he said in response to a question.

Arguing that the US, South Korea and all powers in that region are committed to a pathway to peace, he alleged the North Koreans seem to be headed in a different direction here.

“So we will unequivocally defend and we are unequivocally committed to the alliance with South Korea as well as our other allies in that region of the world, and we will be prepared to deal with any eventuality there,” Hagel said.

Even though some of the statements coming from North Korea are rhetoric and provocative in nature, Hagel said these have to be taken seriously.

“We’ve seen some historical trajectory here on where North Korea occasionally will go to try to get the attention of the US, to try to manoeuvre us into some positions favourably to them, whether it’s more assistance or bilateral engagement,” he said.

North Korea, he said, has to understand that what they’re doing is very dangerous, and they have some options.

Published on March 29, 2013

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