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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid