Wednesday, June 29, 2005

US Commander in SK says US can repel any NK attack

Here's a Reuters report about an interview that the commander of US forces in South Korea gave yesterday. He reiterates that US and SK forces can repel any potential attack NK may launch, regardless whether Pyongyang has nukes. He says he believes NK has at least 2 nukes.


John Carroll said...

Hey this is basically the same thing, but I found it at, through the A.P.

U.S. Commander Says N. Korea Attack Would Be Repelled
Wednesday, June 29, 2005

SEOUL, South Korea — A U.S. military commander on Wednesday said the United States (search) and South Korea (search) could repel any attack by North Korea, even if the secretive country has one or two nuclear bombs.

Gen. Leon LaPorte (search), commander of the U.S. military in South Korea, said he believes that North Korea has at least one or two nuclear weapons, but that the combined American and South Korean forces on the peninsula could deter or defeat any attack from the North.

Washington and Seoul "retain our ability to deter North Korean aggression and if required, to decisively defeat the North Korean threat if they were to threaten South Korea," LaPorte said in an interview with Seoul's PBC Radio (search).

North Korea claimed in February it had nuclear weapons and has since then made moves that would allow it to harvest more weapons-grade plutonium.

Meanwhile, South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young (search) headed to Washington to meet with Vice President Dick Cheney and other U.S. officials. Chung planned to discuss his recent meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who told Chung that Pyongyang could return to the stalled six-nation nuclear negotiations as early as July — if Washington respects it as a partner.

"We will continue diplomatic efforts, putting weight on the possibility of (North Korea's) return in July" as Kim has suggested, Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon (search) told reporters Wednesday. "Through maximum diplomatic efforts, we will try to resume the talks in July."

Ban said a "positive atmosphere" has been created for resumption of the talks and that "it is desirable for North Korea to return to the talks without further delay."

North Korea has stayed away from the arms talks — which also involve South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States — for more than a year.

Chung's Washington visit is aimed in part at dispelling U.S. concerns over whether Kim will remain committed to his remarks hinting at a return to the nuclear negotiations, said Hong Seok-hyun, South Korea's ambassador to Washington.

The United States has been skeptical of Kim's comments, urging North Korea to set a firm date to return to the arms talks.

"It is true there are doubts about whether words will lead to actions," Hong told South Korea's MBC Radio Wednesday. "Minister Chung's visit to the United States is important for dispelling these."

Experts say there is a high probability the disarmament talks will resume soon.

"I think it's possible the talks will resume in July or in August if a little later," said Park Jun-young, political science professor at Ewha Womans University. "It's about time the North return, bargain and negotiate."

Park said North Korea — which has a history of using brinkmanship to wring foreign aid — would be able to win large concessions including energy aid from the South in exchange for giving up its nuclear weapons.

"The United States will make no more concessions, but it may accept to a certain degree South Korea's assistance if that can dismantle North Korea's nuclear weapons program," he said.

Adam Dweck said...

I'm not sure what to think about the rhetoric/response from the high ranking US military official. Does this further anger a nation fueled by military power?? probably... however, I wonder what our military capabilities really are.

eric d said...

i think the US officials know taxpayers will INVARIABLY have to pay a lot of money to help fix the North Korea situation. all of this rhetoric ("no appeasement...") is just so we don't have to fix it now... could it be that Bush just wants let the next administration deal with Korea when it is a bigger problem?

Matt Grieger said...

Regarding Adam's comment ... This isn't really angering or egging on North Korea - this is normal talk from the US. Every other month or so, an official such as this guy comes out, delivers a warning just to make sure Kim knows we're still pissed at him.

I think he takes this about as seriously as we take his official's warnings about turning Seoul into a "Sea of Fire."

This comment is nothing to be worried about. It's the status quo in US-NK relations.

simsima325 said...

I am not supprised by this statement at all. It doesn't take too many resources for a country like the US to conventionally bomb a country like the DPRK into the 17th century. We have already put so much money and resources into the SK Army, it makes sense that between them, our forces stationed there, and our bombs, that the DPRK would not be able to engulf the peninsula.

Ahistoricality said...

Was there ever any doubt that the US could beat North Korea? In the long run, of course: North Korea could use up its entire arsenal in about a week, and then they'd be throwing sticks and rocks. Of course, by then, if the worst-case scenario is correct, several Japanese and US cities would be radioactive rubble, Seoul would be suitable only for tank-training excercises, and the odds are pretty good that we'd have bombed North Korea back to whatever prehistoric age we chose.

Even in a best-case scenario, "beating" North Korea would probably mean devastating damage to Seoul and some damage to Japan.

And if the North Koreans take a lesson from Iraq, all bets are off as to when or whether a "Mission Accomplished" sign would fly...

Note, though, that LaPorte also includes "deter" in his capabilities. That assumes that Kim Jong Il is making rational decisions based on the same basic premises that his scenario-geeks are using. What's his basis for that, I wonder?

He's trying to be reassuring. It doesn't really tell us much about how things would play out.