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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.