Carter: U.S. Committed to Maintaining Peace in Asia-Pacific
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 9, 2013 Through its actions over the past weeks, the United States has shown that it is committed to maintaining peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and throughout the Asia-Pacific region, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said here yesterday.
Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Carter said the United States is working with friends and allies around the world to employ an integrated response to North Korea’s most recent provocations, which include moving missiles to its east coast and threatening U.S. forces with nuclear strikes.
“We're vigilantly monitoring the situation,” the deputy secretary said. “We're in close contact with our South Korean civilian and military counterparts, as well as with the governments of Japan, China and Russia.”
The U.S. position is that North Korea should immediately stop making provocative threats, Carter noted.
“North Korea's nuclear activities are in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and its international commitments,” he said. “And we believe that North Korea should live up to these commitments and refrain from its provocative behavior.”
Elements of the integrated response to North Korea include U.N. Security Council resolutions “with unprecedentedly strong sanctions, and additional unilateral sanctions of great effect,” he said, “the result of which will be to leave North Korea further isolated from the international community.”
Together, the United States and South Korea are advancing the alliance's military capabilities and enhancing homeland and alliance security, he said.
“In particular, we will continue to provide the extended deterrence offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella and will ensure that all of our capabilities remain available to the alliance,” Carter added.
On March 15, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that the United States would strengthen its missile defenses to stay ahead of North Korean ballistic missile development, the deputy secretary said. Actions include deploying 14 more ground-based interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, and the planned deployment to Japan of a second Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance and Control, or TPY-2, radar.
The transportable X-band, high-resolution, phased-array radar can track all classes of ballistic missiles and identify small objects at long distances, according to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. In a forward-based mode it acts as a sensor, detecting ballistic missiles early in their flight and providing precise tracking information.
Using multiple sensors gives overlapping coverage, and the newest TPY-2 radar will improve early warning and tracking of any missile launched from North Korea toward the United States or Japan, Carter said.
In recent weeks the U.S. Navy has moved the guided-missile destroyers USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald to the western Pacific, the deputy secretary noted, “where they are poised to respond to any missile threats to our allies or our territory.”
On April 4, Defense Department officials announced the near-term deployment of a terminal high-altitude area defense system, or THAAD, ballistic missile defense system to Guam to strengthen the regional defense posture against the North Korean missile threat, he said.
The United States also recently signed a new joint counter-provocation plan with South Korea “to enhance our coordination and response in the event of a North Korean provocation and to mitigate the risk of miscalculation,” Carter explained. And the U.S. and South Korean military forces participate in annual military exercises, including the Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises, to ensure that the alliance is operationally ready to meet regional security challenges, he noted.
“As [President Barack Obama] has made clear,” the deputy secretary said, “there's a path open to North Korea to peace and economic opportunity. But to get on that path, North Korea must abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and abide by its international commitments.”