Ash Carter visited the DMZ with South Korea military officials. He has assured the South of U.S support but has once again strongly urged North Korea to curb its aggressive nuclear program.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the region that divides the two Koreas, along with officials from South Korea. Carter called on North Korea to take steps to shrink and eventually terminate its nuclear programs that are clearly aimed at arming the nation with nuclear weapons.
Ash Carter did solemnly acknowledge that the chances of the two nations putting aside their differences for peace appeared slim, reported the New York Daily News.
Speaking to reporters while visiting the DMZ, which also acts as no man’s land dividing the two countries, he said, “For now, what we have is what you see beyond us — a very starkly divided and heavily defended border area.”
North Korean President Kim Jong Un recently oversaw a massive military parade. Alongside goose-stepping military personnel, North Korea proudly presented its arsenal, which included short-range ballistic missiles and even drones. While speaking about the military prowess that his country possesses, he said his forces were “ready to respond to any kind of war the American imperialists want.”
Incidentally, North Korea has reportedly carried out three separate nuclear tests so far and has openly indicated it strongly intends to carry out a fourth to ensure its nuclear program was on track. The country hasn’t exactly hid its intentions behind the nuclear program and hopes to develop a nuclear arsenal, despite knowing that any nuclear strike on South Korea will destroy a lot of North Korea through collateral damage and subsequently through the nuclear fallout.
Despite the hostility displayed by North Korea, Carter confirmed that the United States is committed to the six-party talks process, which intends to denuclearize the region and perhaps achieve some level of amicable dialogue between the two Koreas. However, North Korea has long back abandoned the six-party talks. But that hasn’t altered the stand America has taken on the subject, clarified Carter.
“That remains our policy. We remain committed to achieving that negotiated outcome with North Korea, and believe that they should be on the path of doing less — and ultimately zero — in the nuclear field, not to be doing more.”
Carter didn’t stay long at the DMZ and spent the time there observing the fence and sporadic wilderness that extends up to North Korea. While South Korean troops lined the fence, North Korean military could be seen at a distance, keenly observing the proceedings. Though American officials had said they wouldn’t be surprised if North Korea attempted to stage a minor provocation during the time Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford are in Seoul, so far, their visit has been very peaceful.
Interestingly, Mr. Carter clarified he was well aware of the eccentricities that North Korea is prone to, and even before landing in Seoul, he told reporters that the country could act provocatively at any time and for no reason, reported the Wall Street Journal.
“Our slogan of our alliance forces there is ‘fight tonight’, because you never know. Obviously we hope not, we hope for no provocations and we certainly hope for no aggression on the Korean Peninsula. We believe that would be terrible for everybody and our alliance is intended to deter it, but we remain ready for everything.”
The visit to DMZ in South Korea is Ash Carter’s first stop, and he intends to visit a few more countries. The official agenda for the tour is to “push the next phase of America’s foreign policy rebalance to the strategically important region.” However, the core intention is China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea, reported MSN.
[Photo by Jewel Samad / Getty Images, Korea Pool/Getty Images, Jung Yeon-je / Getty Images]