Because the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, better known as North Korea, continues to represent a serious threat to the Republic of Korea, more commonly known as South Korea, the United States continues to be fully committed to the security of the Republic of Korea and to provide the forces and military capabilities needed to maintain the security of the Korean Peninsula, said U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
Speaking at a joint press conference with South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin following annual consultations on the state of the alliance between the two countries, Secretary Panetta said that the United States and South Korea are working to improve the capability of their combined forces to work together.
Smooth cooperation of the combined forces is critical to strengthening and transforming the alliance and remains vital to the interests of both of our nations as well as to the stability in Northeast Asia, said Secretary of Defense Panetta.
"Pyongyang has demonstrated its willingness to conduct provocations that target innocent lives. And North Korea continues to defy the international community as it enhances its nuclear weapons, its ballistic missile programs, and continues to engage in dangerous and destabilizing proliferation activities," he said.
In November 2010, North Korea launched an artillery attack against a South Korean island that killed four people. North Korea was also responsible for the March 2010 sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan, which resulted in the loss of 46 lives. According to South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, such provocative behavior is likely to continue. And military tensions will not ease on the Korean Peninsula until such incidents cease, said Defense Minister Kim.
"The alliance between our two countries is a commitment to providing an enduring, resolute, and capable defense to the Republic of Korea," said Secretary of Defense Panetta.
"Together, we will ensure a strong and effective alliance deterrence posture, including from United States’ nuclear umbrella, so that Pyongyang never misjudges our role and our capability to respond decisively to nuclear aggression."