News / Asia

    US Defense Chief: North Korea Watching World Deal with Syria

    South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin (R) points out a location in North Korea to U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, from Observation Point Ouellette during a tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), South Korea September 30, 2013.
    South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin (R) points out a location in North Korea to U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, from Observation Point Ouellette during a tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), South Korea September 30, 2013.
    Daniel Schearf
    U. S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says North Korea is watching how the world deals with Syria and its chemical weapons. Hagel made the comments during a visit to the border between North and South Korea and ahead of talks with South Korean officials.

    At the start of a four-day trip to South Korea Monday, the U.S. defense chief toured the heavily armed South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at the border with North Korea.
     
    Chuck Hagel also visited the Joint Security Area (JSA) at the Panmunjom truce village where officials from the two Koreas sometimes meet and where their soldiers have faced-off for six decades.
     
    North’s chemical stockpile

    Hagel peered across the border from an observation post just meters from North Korea. 
     
    He noted Seoul's concerns about the North's stockpile of chemical weapons and said Pyongyang is carefully watching to see how the world deals with Syria and works to rid it of chemical weapons.
     
    “Threats that come from use of weapons of mass destruction...are not limited to borders or regions.  They are global threats.  And, nations who possess those kinds of weapons, and who are irresponsible, do watch how the world responds and reacts,” said Hagel.
     
    North Korea is believed to have massive stocks of chemical weapons. In February, the North came under heavy criticism, and tougher sanctions, after testing its third nuclear device and threatening preemptive attacks on Seoul and Washington.
     
    Kim Min-seok, South Korea's Defense Ministry Spokesman, said Hagel's border visit was significant as it was his first and underscored the shared U.S.-South Korea military history.
     
    He said this year marks the 60th anniversary of the alliance between South Korea and the United States, adding that the defense secretary visited the border to inspect the status of the area.
     
    Issue of command handover

    Hagel and his South Korean counterpart, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin will hold talks assessing the threat from North Korea as well as plans for South Korea to take over war-time military operational controls from the U.S.
     
    Washington was scheduled to hand over war-time command in 2012 but South Korea, citing tensions with the North, pushed for an extension to 2015.
     
    Seoul wants that deadline extended again but Washington is reluctant.  Hagel has indicated there is not likely to be a final decision on the deadline during his visit.
     
    Daniel Pinkston, deputy director for Northeast Asia at the International Crisis Group, said if the armistice were to fail, and wartime conditions returned, the integration of forces would not be a simple matter.
     
    “This is something that has to be resolved at the working level and a number of criteria have to be met.  The two allies wish to see South Korea leading this defense posture to deter North Korea.  But, there are a number of technical issues that have to be resolved,” said Pinkston.
     
    Secretary Hagel, en route to Seoul Sunday, said it was important to assure allies in Asia that a possible U.S. government shutdown would not affect U.S. commitments to the region.  He called lawmakers' threat of freezing spending an 'astoundingly irresponsible' way to govern.
     
    "The greatest democracy in the world, the largest democracy in the world, and we're putting our people through this.  That's not leadership.  That's abdication of responsibilities," said Hagel.
     
    The U.S. Secretary of Defense Wednesday will co-host a ceremony in Seoul welcoming the new commander of U.S. forces in Korea.  Hagel will then head to Japan to join U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in discussions of regional issues including North Korea and tensions between Tokyo and Beijing.
     
    VOA Seoul bureau producer Youmi Kim contributed to this report.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora