Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Hagel’

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday that North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons poses a “growing threat” to the U.S. and its allies.

In a telephone call Tuesday evening to Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, Hagel cited North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and said Washington and Beijing should continue to cooperate on those problems.

“The secretary emphasized the growing threat to the U.S. and our allies posed by North Korea’s aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and expressed to General Chang the importance of sustained U.S.-China dialogue and cooperation on these issues,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement describing the phone call.

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(CNN) — North Korea’s threatening rhetoric has reached a fevered pitch, but the Pentagon and the South Korean government have said it’s nothing new.

“We have no indications at this point that it’s anything more than warmongering rhetoric,” a senior Washington defense official said late Saturday.

The official was not authorized to speak to the media and asked not to be named.

The National Security Council, which advises the U.S. president on matters of war, struck a similar cord. Washington finds North Korea’s statements “unconstructive,” and it does take the threats seriously.

“But, we would also note that North Korea has a long history of bellicose rhetoric and threats and today’s announcement follows that familiar pattern,” said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for NSC.

The United States will continue to update its capabilities against any military threat from the north, which includes plans to deploy missile defense systems.

North Korea’s rhetoric

North Korea declared it had entered a “state of war” with neighboring South Korea, according to a report Saturday from the state-run Korean Central News Agency. It included a threat to “dissolve” the U.S. mainland.

“The condition, which was neither war nor peace, has ended, North Korea’s government said in a special statement carried by KCNA.”

North Korea and South Korea technically remain at war since their conflict between 1950 and 1953 ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty. On March 11, the North Korean army declared the armistice agreement invalid.

Saturday’s report included a direct threat to the United States, while also asserting any conflict “will not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war.”

The statement made the prospect of war contingent upon “a military provocation … against the DPRK” in sensitive areas on the border between North and South.

The South: It’s not new

In a statement later Saturday, South Korea did not treat their neighbor’s latest threat as imminent danger.

Seoul noted scores of its personnel had entered the Kaesong Industrial complex — a joint economic cooperation zone between the two Koreas situated on the North’s side of the border — on Saturday morning with hundreds more set to join them later in the day, seemingly suggesting they were going about business as usual.

“The announcement made by North Korea is not a new threat, but part of follow-up measures after North Korea’s supreme command’s statement that it will enter the highest military alert” on Tuesday, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said in a statement.

Map appears to show U.S. targets

A day earlier, the same official North Korean news agency reported its leader Kim Jong Un had approved a plan to prepare standby rockets to hit U.S. targets.

In a meeting with military leaders early Friday, Kim “said he has judged the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation,” KCNA reported.

The rockets are aimed at U.S. targets, including military bases in the Pacific and in South Korea, it said.

“If they make a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces, (we) should mercilessly strike the U.S. mainland, their stronghold, their military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea,” the report said.

Behind North Korea’s heated words about missile strikes, one analyst said, there might not be much mettle.

“Unless there has been a miraculous turnaround among North Korea’s strategic forces, there is little to no chance that it could successfully land a missile on Guam, Hawaii or anywhere else outside the Korean Peninsula that U.S. forces may be stationed,” James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor of IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly,wrote in an opinion column published Thursday on CNN.com.

Analysis: Just what is Kim Jong Un up to?

U.S. official: We’re ‘committed … to peace

U.S. defense officials said Friday that the North’s bantering is destructive.

“This is troubling rhetoric that disrupts the prospects for peace on the Peninsula,” the senior official said.

Some observers have suggested that Washington is adding to tensions in the region by drawing attention to its displays of military strength on North Korea’s doorstep, such as the flights by the B-2 stealth bombers.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel argued against that assertion Thursday.

Threats of annihilation normal for South Koreans

“We, the United States and South Korea, have not been involved in provocating anything,” he said. “We, over the years, have been engaged with South Korea on joint exercises. The B-2 flight was part of that.”

Washington and its allies “are committed to a pathway to peace,” Hagel said. “And the North Koreans seem to be headed in a different direction here.”

Opinion: Why North Korea regime is scary

Amid the uneasy situation, China, a key North Korean ally that expressed frustration about Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test, also called for calm.

“We hope relevant parties can work together to turn around the tense situation in the region,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said Friday, describing peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula as “a joint responsibility.”

North Korea’s threat: Five things to know

Tensions have been rising for months

Tensions escalated on the Korean Peninsula after the North carried out a long-range rocket launch in December and an underground nuclear test last month, prompting the U.N. Security Council to step up sanctions on the secretive government.

U.S. officials concerned about North Korea’s ‘ratcheting up of rhetoric’

Pyongyang has expressed fury about the sanctions and the annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises, due to continue until the end of April.

The deteriorating relations have killed hopes of reviving multilateral talks over North Korea’s nuclear program for the foreseeable future. Indeed, Pyongyang has declared that the subject is no longer up for discussion.

Korean nightmare: Experts ponder potential conflict

Kim Jong-un says missiles are poised to ‘settle accounts’, but experts say North Korea has a history of making empty threats

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s latest threat to “settle accounts with the U.S.” — while displaying a “strike plan” that shows missiles tracking toward American cities — was widely seen as another example of the young leader’s erratic bluster.

The threat to lob long-range nuclear-tipped missiles at central U.S. cities is, in the opinion of most expert observers, overblown. But while making progress on its missile capability, the regime has other ways to wreak havoc, and this is what has officials and analysts increasingly worried.

“You only need to be wrong once,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, in discussing assessments of North Korea. “I don’t know what president or what chairman or what secretary of Defense wants to be wrong once when it comes to nuclear threats.”

Officials are concerned that with the rising threats, Kim is backing his regime into a corner where it may be compelled to act in order to save face. And in the near-term, the regime has plenty of ways to do that.

It can continue to proliferate dangerous weapons to places like Iran and Syria. And, as it has repeatedly demonstrated, the regime can attack and provoke South Korea — the scenario many are worried about.

“We’re one dead fisherman away from something that could escalate quite quickly,” said Jim Walsh, an international security expert and research associate at MIT. “That’s the one I worry about.”

Walsh said despite the rhetoric, the “war fundamentals” have not changed. North Korea would be obliterated by South Korea in the event of a war, with or without U.S. military support — and the North Koreans know that.

But he said the “accidental war” — the provocation that goes too far and spirals into all-out conflict — is the real worry.

“The whole system is set up like a deck of cards right now,” Walsh said.

North Korea is infamous for testing and prodding South Korea. In 2010, under the current leader’s late father Kim Jong Il, North Korea was blamed for sinking a South Korean ship and killing 46 sailors, though North Korea denied it. That time, there were no serious repercussions for the North.

Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, suggested South Korea’s new president, Park Geun-hye, would not let such an attack slide.

“If that were to happen again or something like it, I believe it could lead to war,” O’Hanlon said.

Walsh said that while North Korea would fall, in the best-case scenario “you still get … 1,000 artillery shells landing on Seoul.”

O’Hanlon described a scenario where South Korea retaliates and North Korea escalates — and eventually the U.S. would be faced with the question of how to get involved militarily.

Hagel said Thursday that the U.S. “will unequivocally defend and we are unequivocally committed to that alliance with South Korea.”

Back in 1984, the U.S. prepared a campaign plan that would have made possible the destruction of the entire North Korean air force in 100 hours. Retired U.S. Air Force generals say the military could do it even faster today.

The Pentagon made clear this week that it is taking the threat seriously. It flew B-2 bombers 13,000 miles to a South Korean island where they dropped inert bombs. It is the first time the U.S. has ever sent B-2 bombers to the Korean Peninsula. A tweet from the U.S. embassy in Seoul said the bombers were “demonstrating the US’s ability to conduct precision strikes at will.”

Christian Whiton, a former State Department official now with the D.C. International Advisory, told Fox News that the major threat from North Korea is that “it’s proliferated virtually every weapon system it’s ever produced.”

“There’s a real threat that North Korea will continue to do what it does best, which is to profit off of proliferating the world’s most dangerous weapons to some of the world’s most odious people,” he said.

Despite repeated nuclear and missile tests, it is believed North Korea is still years away from being able hit the U.S. with a nuclear-tipped missile.

The Council on Foreign Relations projects that only North Korea’s Taepodong-2 missile could reach America. But that missile could only go as far as Alaska and has not yet been successfully tested. Its other rockets have a considerably shorter range.

While having made progress in their ballistic missile program, the North Koreans still have not mastered the technology of delivering a nuclear device by a long-range missile.

“If they ever do it, it’s going to be a while,” Walsh said of any effort to develop a missile capable of hitting the continental U.S.

Walsh also said it’s unlikely North Korea would ever send out a suicide bomber — equipped with a radioactive “dirty bomb” or some similar device — describing the move as too risky without much payoff for Pyongyang.

North Korea Says It Will Launch Nuclear Attack On America!!

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/29/what-kind-attack-could-north-korea-launch/#ixzz2Oy6AXqk8