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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid