Pen­tagon chief vows ‘best’ US weaponry to Asia

The China Post - - SPORTS -

U.S. De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash­ton Carter promised Fri­day that the U.S. would deploy state of the art weaponry in Asia, in­clud­ing the lat­est stealth bombers and cy­ber war­fare units, to counter threats posed by the likes of North Korea.

“Our new­est and best things are be­ing de­ployed to this part of the world,” Carter said in Seoul — the sec­ond leg of a visit to the two key U.S. mil­i­tary al­lies in the re­gion, Ja­pan and South Korea.

The Pen­tagon chief said his talks with South Korean De­fense Min­is­ter Han Min-koo had in­cluded a “can­did as­sess­ment” of the threat posed to the Korean penin­sula — “and the U.S. home­land” — by North Korea’s nu­clear weapons and bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram.

“As it demon­strated once again with the re­cent mis­sile launches, North Korea is in­tent on con­tin­ued provo­ca­tion,” he told re­porters.

The North fired two sur­faceto- air mis­siles off its west coast on Tues­day, just as Carter ar­rived in Ja­pan on the first leg of his tour.

Ear­lier, it had test fired a se­ries of short range bal­lis­tic mis­siles to ex­press its anger with an­nual South Korean-U.S. mil­i­tary ex­er­cises which Py­ongyang con­demns as re­hearsals for in­va­sion.

The United States has close to 30,000 troops per­ma­nently sta­tioned in South Korea and would as­sume op­er­a­tional com­mand of both armed forces in the event of a con­flict with the North.

The two Koreas re­main tech­ni­cally at war be­cause the 1950-53 Korean con­flict ended with a cease-fire rather than a peace treaty.

Tai­lor-made Weaponry

Stress­ing that mil­i­tary de­ter­rence and readi­ness were “at a pre­mium” on the di­vided penin­sula, Carter said the U.S. was in­vest­ing in “ad­vanced ca­pa­bil­i­ties ... tai­lored to this dy­namic se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment.”

Asked to ex­pand, he cited new stealth bombers, F- 35 stealth fighters and highly de­vel­oped cy­ber war­fare sys­tems that could be ro­ta­tion­ally de­ployed in the Asian theatre.

North Korea has an ad­vanced cy­ber war­fare ca­pa­bil­ity which it has wielded in dam­ag­ing hack­ing as­saults on South Korean fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions.

The FBI has ac­cused the North of be­ing be­hind a dev­as­tat­ing cy­ber attack on Sony Pic­tures, the stu­dio be­hind the Hol­ly­wood film “The In­ter­view” — a com­edy about a fic­tional plot to as­sas­si­nate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

At the same time, he said his talks in Seoul had not touched on the sen­si­tive is­sue of a mis­sile de­fense sys­tem, known as THAAD, that Wash­ing­ton is look­ing to deploy in South Korea.

China and Rus­sia are both vo­cally op­posed to the THAAD de­ploy­ment, warn­ing that it would un­der­mine re­gional peace and sta­bil­ity.

It’s a tricky is­sue for Seoul which must weigh the pri­or­i­ties of its most im­por­tant mil­i­tary ally, the U.S., against its largest trade part­ner, China.

Carter in­sisted THAAD was not dis­cussed in Seoul be­cause the sys­tem was still in pro­duc­tion.

“We’re not at the point yet where we would begin dis­cussing its de­ploy­ment with any­body,” he said.

AP

U.S. De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash Carter, cen­ter, and his South Korean coun­ter­part Han Min-koo, left, are briefed as they look around the wreck­age of the South Korean naval ves­sel Cheo­nan, that sank and killed 46 sailors on­board in 2010 near the mar­itime bor­der with North Korea, at a naval base in Pyeong­taek, 70 kilo­me­ters (44 miles) south of Seoul, Fri­day, April 10.

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