Tue, 23 Nov 2010 10:41:00 -0600
Pentagon Monitors Korean Situation With Concern
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2010 - The Defense Department affirmed its alliance
with South Korea and is closely monitoring the situation on the Korean
peninsula in the wake of today's North Korean artillery attack on South
"We will honor our alliance obligations to the South, and ... we are
determined to promote peace and security on the peninsula," Pentagon
Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today in an interview on MSNBC.
The attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong is reported to have
killed two and injured at least 15.
Secretary of Defense Gates Robert M. Gates is monitoring the situation
closely and will be in contact with his South Korean counterpart this
morning, Morrell said.
"We take this very seriously, just as we took the sinking of the Cheonan
earlier this year very seriously, [in which] the North murdered some 40
South Korean sailors," Morrell said.
Morrell said Gates responded to a reporter's question yesterday about
North Korea by saying, "To any question beginning with 'Why?' with
regards to North Korea, my answer is the same: I don't know."
North Korea's government is extremely unpredictable, and "they do things
you could not possibly have predicted in a rational world," Morrell
Morrell said U.S. sanctions in place against North Korea have been
strengthened since the March sinking of the Cheonan.
"It's hard to pile more sanctions upon the North than are already
there," he said, "and yet it seems they are not foolproof. But we've
always known they aren't foolproof."
North Korea's government "is determined to bypass the sanctions [and] to
not abide by its international obligations," the press secretary said.
North Korea's irresponsible behavior also is "demonstrated by the fact
that it's trying to be a proliferator of weapons, that it's dealing with
countries that are also under sanctions ... unfortunately, this is not
out of keeping with their belligerent and unpredictable behavior,"
The Defense Department views North Korea's actions "with concern,"
Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan told reporters today.
The North Koreans "certainly increase tensions on the peninsula," Lapan
said, "and so any type of military incidents between North and the
Republic of Korea are viewed with concern, because of contributing to
instability in the region, and especially on the Korean peninsula."
Meanwhile, he said, the U.S. government is monitoring the situation and
conferring with allies.
"At this point it's premature to say that we're considering any
[military] action," Lapan said.
The White House issued a statement earlier today strongly condemning the
attack and calling on North Korea to halt its belligerent action and to
fully abide by the terms of the Armistice Agreement.
White House Condemns North Korean Attack
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