The United States remains committed to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and continues to call on North Korea to maintain peace and stability in the region, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today.
Carter spoke to reporters during a visit to the South Korean side of the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone between the Koreas.
“You can see right behind me is North Korea and the DMZ, and being here shows you up close just how dangerous this part of the world is,” he said, with the North Korean side of the zone just yards away.
The strong U.S.-South Korea alliance is a deterrent to the constant danger posed by North Korea, he said.
“The ever-present danger is the reason why we speak of the ability to fight tonight,” he said. “No one ever wants to have to do that, but deterrence is guaranteed through strength, and that’s what the alliance is all about.”
The United States continues to call on North Korea to “avoid provocations, avoid adding to tensions on the peninsula,” Carter said.
Pyongyang needs to “take the steps that are called for in the six-party talks to denuclearize the peninsula and ultimately create a situation that is peaceful and prosperous for everyone on the peninsula,” he said.
Carter noted that “that’s not what we have” now. Instead of a peaceful and prosperous situation on the Korean Peninsula, he said, there is a starkly divided and heavily defended border area.
Ironclad and Strong
“That’s why our alliance with South Korea is ironclad and strong,” he said. “You see that by the strength of our soldiers here and their South Korean counterparts.”
Carter’s South Korea visit is part of an eight-day tour focusing on the U.S. rebalance to the Pacific. Other stops include Malaysia.
Carter on Monday will attend the 47th annual US-Republic of Korea Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul. He travels on to Malaysia for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers Plus meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)