DoD News Briefing: Secretary of Defense William J. Perry
Friday, October 7, 1994
Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.
Secretary Perry and Minister Rhee will each begin with short opening statements, and then they have time to take only a few questions. I introduce Secretary Perry.
Secretary Perry: Thank you, Ken. Thank you all for joining us. Minister Rhee and I have just completed the 26th Annual Security Consultative Meeting. A copy of the joint communique will be made available to you. Each of us will make a statement, and then take a few questions.
During the last few days, Minister Rhee and I reaffirmed our shared view that the security of the Korean peninsula is essential to the stability and prosperity of the entire region, a region which is vital to the national security interests of the United States. We, therefore, remain deeply concerned by North Korea's continued build-up of conventional military forces as well as its development of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles.
With regard to these developments, Minister Rhee and I have agreed to maintain close consultations to maintain deterrence and preparedness. The United States' security commitment and nuclear umbrella remain firm, and we are prepared to respond to any aggression on the Korean peninsula.
We are particularly concerned that the North Korean nuclear issue remains unresolved. We hope that the ongoing talks in Geneva will produce substantive progress, and that the North will fulfill its obligations both under the IAEA and under the Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which they signed with the Republic of Korea. Resolution of the fundamental issues of peace and security on the peninsula can only be achieved through direct dialogue between the Republic of Korea and North Korea. Until then, the Military Armistice Agreement remains valid, and the only mechanism for maintaining peace.
In order to maintain our combined deterrent capability, we have agreed to continue to modernize and maximize our combat capabilities through close consultation on all military issues. We also are committed to continuing combined military exercises that are necessary to sustain defensive readiness. As you know, the Republic of Korea is assuming a more leading role in the combined defense. To this end, on 1 December, the operational control currently held during the armistice period by the commander-in-chief of the CFC over selected ROK forces will be transferred to the chairman of the Republic of Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff. That will be on 1 December.
At these meetings we have also discussed cost sharing issues that are associated with the combined defenses, and we are both fully confident that the goals for both 1995 and the future will be met. Lastly, we've looked out toward the next century and agree that there will be a continued need for close security cooperation between our two countries.
Minister Rhee: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Secretary Perry and I successfully completed this morning the 26th Korea/U.S. Annual Consultative meeting. With Secretary Perry's visit to Seoul last April, this is the second meeting between the two defense secretaries. This year's Security Consultative Meeting was held in a state of flux, after the death of North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, and in the midst of U.S./North Korean talks. I believe that this was a timely and productive meeting, held at a time when cooperation between our two countries is needed more than ever. After reviewing the security environment on the Korean peninsula, Secretary Perry and I share the view that a potential threat from North Korea still exists.
We reconfirmed our two countries' firm stance to implement the Mutual Defense Treaty. We also confirmed that our two nations will maintain a close cooperation -- close cooperativce stance, to solve the North Korean nuclear issue. We agree that we will continue to strengthen our defense cooperation. I am certain that the 26th Security Consultative Meeting was productive and satisfactory.
Through this meeting Secretary Perry and I reconfirmed the combined stance in our security cooperation, and personally we strengthen the bond of friendship between us. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Secretary Perry and his staff for their efforts to make this meeting a great success. If I may add one more thing, I believe that there has been many fields of interest between our two countries, in various positions -- offices. Sometimes there has been some conflicting interest but in terms as long as our two defense establishments are concerned, there has been no conflict. We share common sense, we share friendship. In this regard I may say that people back in Korea may feel rewarded -- may feel -- don't have to feel any sense of uneasiness in this defense establishment.
Q: Dr. Perry, I wonder if I might ask a question opening on Iraq, with apologies for the minister?
Secretary Perry: I will answer a question on Iraq, but let me take a few questions on Korea first, and we'll promise to come back to you on that.
Q: Well, could we ask you a question about the region then, briefly? China conducted a nuclear test -- I'm sure it's in both of your interests, China conducted a nuclear test today. Will that in any way affect your plans to visit China?
Secretary Perry: No.
Q: Could you both give us your opinion?
Secretary Perry: It will be an issue that I will discuss when I'm in China?
Q: How do you view that, Mr. Minister?
Secretary Perry: We are continuing our joint planning for Team Spirit '94, and we will make a decision on Team Spirit at the appropriate time. It was -- timing was not discussed at this consultative meeting today.
Q: Mr. Secretary, can you tell us now what the status of Iraqi troop mobilizations along the Kuwait frontier are?
Secretary Perry: One more question on Korea, and then we'll go to Iraq.
Q: I'd like to ask the minister, considering the status of North Korea's nuclear program, does South Korea have any plans to develop nuclear weapons itself?
Minister Rhee: My one correction. From hereafter, please call my country Republic of Korea, not South Korea. It is far better terminology. And according to your question, absolutely no.
Q: Mr. Perry, what is the best policy the United States with the resolution of the special inspection to the North Korea nuclear problem -- I mean, nuclear activities?
Secretary Perry: Will you repeat the question? I didn't understand the full dimension of it. Can you say it again, please?
Q: Inspection of the nuclear activities.
Secretary Perry: We have consistently maintained the position that any agreement with the North Koreans will have to adequately account for the history of the program, and special inspections is one way of doing that. We don't insist that that's the only way of doing it, but we insist that a satisfactory way of confidently determining history must be part of any agreement.
Q: Could you tell us what exactly, and perhaps with some specifics, any steps you've agreed upon to upgrade the Republic of Korea's troops on the peninsula? And then perhaps, Mr. Secretary, if you could please give us any indication that you have of specifics about the type of troop movements that have been going on in Iraq, and whether you see those as a threat to Kuwait.
Minister Rhee: What do you mean to upgrade the troops?
Q: Counter-battery units, artilleries, and kind of -- (inaudible).
Minister Rhee: Let me answer firstly, we, Korean armed forces, have a long-term rolling plan planning, and in the plan, through the plan, or by the plan, we compensate the area where we feel short in combat effectiveness or combat strength. So it is under continuous review, so annually we review it and we supplement it next year. So, it is a kind of a rolling plan. So, according to the plan, we compensate, or we supplement the area where we are short.
Q: You mentioned that you wanted to upgrade U.S. Air Force capabilities a year ago, things of that sort. Have those things been done to your satisfaction, and have there been any suggestions that you made?
Secretary Perry: We need to translate this answer first.
Q: Minister Rhee: A Korean reporter... Last April we made the decision that the Team Spirit '94 will be held in November this year, but now Secretary Perry mentioned that he won't respond to that, and the Korean reporter directly asked me about that, whether or not we will have Team Spirit, or if we are going to have it, when will we have the Team Spirit '94, and if we are going to have it, it should be decided in the month of October, and Minister Rhee's answer is that Secretary Perry made the correct answer for the Team Spirit '94.
And about North Korea, the mourning period, 100 days of mourning period after Kim Il Sung's death will be completed around October 15th, so we are paying close attention to what is going on in North Korea, and we will find an appropriate time to make a decision on Team Spirit '94. Perhaps, preferably in the month of October, a decision could be made.
Secretary Perry: I'm going to answer the question that Susanne Schafer asked that I haven't had a chance to yet. We were briefed by General Luck and Admiral Mackey on the readiness improvements that have been made during the past year. They report very significant improvements in readiness, especially during the last six months. These include U.S. deployments of Patriot and Apache battalions, upgrades to the Abrams tank, increase in precision-guided munitions for the Air Force. On the ROK forces they include a continuation of the K-1 tank, self propelled artillery, acquisition of F-16 and P-3 aircraft, and improvement in counter-battery systems. There also have been naval improvements during that period, particularly relative to mine counter-measures.
Q: Can you give us any details on the movements of Iraqi troops toward Kuwait, and how and whether the United States is prepared to respond militarily to this?
Secretary Perry: I have examined the data relative to the Iraqi troop movement very carefully. I'm not free to go into detail on those movements, but I can say that they are extensive enough to cause me concern. I've spent several hours with General Shalikashvili, both last night and this morning reviewing U.S. troop deployments in the area. We will continue to watch this very closely, and are prepared to make any necessary troop deployments to contend with this. I am not free to describe to you what our troop redeployments would consist of, but we have a very substantial capability already in the region.
Q: Do these movements, are they substantially larger than the 67 routine troop replacements -- (inaudible) apparently taken place in the last couple of years (inaudible)?
Secretary Perry: Again, I cannot describe the detail, but I will tell you that the movements are not routine, and they're not typical of what we have seen in the past. And therefore they do cause us concern.
Minister Rhee: If the North Korean issue is not resolved peacefully, then that puts us back to the position where we were last spring. What we were planning to do last spring involved two parallel actions -- one of them requesting sanctions of the United Nations; and the other was enhancing our military forces.
Thank you very much.