Little: North Koreans ‘Need to Dial the Temperature Down’
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 29, 2013 The world cannot afford a miscalculation when dealing with North Korea, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told CNN last night.
North Korea’s flouting of international agreements has made that nation a pariah. Recent rhetoric emanating from Pyongyang has increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, and this needs to stop, Little said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ratcheted up the rhetoric since taking power after his father died. North Korea has tested long-range rockets, launched a satellite into orbit and tested nuclear weapons -- all in defiance of its pledged word to the United Nations.
And, North Korea continues to escalate the war of words by saying the 1953 armistice between North Korea and the United Nations is null and void. Kim has threatened to attack local, regional and international targets.
Little emphasized that the United States stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its South Korean ally.
“I’m not going to speculate on what we may or may not do,” Little said. “Our desire is peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. The North Koreans have two choices. They can choose the path of peace or they can choose the path of provocation. One is better than the other for everyone involved, including the North Korean military and the North Korean people.”
South Korea is hosting a joint military exercise now. Following North Korea’s saber rattling, nuclear-capable B-52 Stratofortress and B-2 Spirit bombers have participated in the maneuvers.
Kim has said North Korea is targeting U.S. bases in South Korea and said its tube- and rocket-launched artillery can range Seoul -- a city of 20 million.
Meanwhile, the United States is maintaining a sober, calm, cool, collected demeanor.
“That’s what we’re doing right now,” Little said. “And we are assuring our South Korean allies day-to-day that we stand with them in the face of these provocations.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is concerned about the risk of miscalculation in view of current events on the Korean Peninsula, Little said.
“We have guarded against miscalculation on the Korean Peninsula for over 60 years,” the press secretary said. “And the secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it's their job to ensure that our military is prepared to respond to any threat or contingency. We are.
“We hope to avoid miscalculation,” Little added. “We think we can. The North Koreans simply need to dial the temperature down.”