Pentagon Spokesman: North Korea Should Stop Provocations
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 2, 2013 North Korean leaders need to stop their harsh rhetoric and provocative actions, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said here today.
During a news conference, Little stressed that the U.S. goal is peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. “We hope to preserve peace and stability, and we hope that others seek to do the same,” he said.
Little seemed to evoke the old saying “a soft answer turneth away wrath” during his briefing. In a matter-of-fact manner, he discussed North Korea’s provocations and American defensive responses.
The press secretary cleared up some of the initial reporting about U.S. missile defense actions yesterday. The sea-based X-band radar is not at sea in response to North Korean provocations, he said. “The SBX is underway,” Little said. “They’re undergoing semiannual system checks. Decisions about further deployments have not been made to this point.”
The Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Decatur and USS McCain have arrived at stations in the western Pacific, “where they will be poised to respond to any missile threats to our allies or our territory,” Little said.
Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, regularly deploys a mix of assets in the region to respond to missile threats, the spokesman said.
“We’re cognizant of the missile threats that are always there for North Korea,” he added. “We regularly conduct missile defense missions, sea-based and land-based, in the Asia-Pacific region. That's for obvious reasons. And we will continue to perform these missions regardless of what tensions may or may not be at a given time.”
Missile defense is an important mission in the region. U.S., South Korean and Japanese forces all have anti-missile capabilities. The United States maintains Patriot missile batteries and terminal high-altitude area defense missiles in South Korea. Sea-based capabilities augment these platforms, Little said.
In addition, the United States and South Korea are consulting with each other under auspices of the new counter-provocation plan. This plan, signed last month, formalizes bilateral consultations to coordinate efforts between the United States and South Korea to respond to North Korean provocations. The plan itself is classified, but Little allowed that “we do have options at our disposal to respond effectively to any North Korean provocation.”
All of this is happening against the background of Exercise Foal Eagle. The exercise, which started March 1, is the latest in the 60-year alliance between the United States and South Korea.
Little called on North Korean leaders to cease their provocative actions. He noted that North Korea has tested a nuclear device and conducted missile launches, though the regime signed accords saying it would stop such actions.
North Korea has threatened to launch missile strikes against the United States and has threatened Japan and South Korea. The United States will stand by its allies, Little said.
“I’m not going to get into the specifics of where our assets are in South Korea or elsewhere, but we stand ready to defend South Korea from external threats wherever they may originate,” he said.