U.S. and South Korea see more North Korean provocations looming
October 28th, 2011
01:27 PM ET

U.S. and South Korea see more North Korean provocations looming

By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy

South Korea's defense minister said Friday he expects more provocations from North Korea in 2012, during a session with his American counterpart.

"Next year, I believe that the possibility of North Korea conducting additional provocations is ... very high," Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told reporters at a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

The regime is planning a nationwide, year-long celebration in 2012 to show North Korea is "strong and prosperous" and also to honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Song, the founder of the communist nation. The current regime is run by his son Kim Jong Il.

That event, along with the ongoing transition from Kim Jong Il to his son Kim Jong Un, is why the South Korean defense minister is worried about more problems from the North in the new year.

A senior U.S. defense official said Panetta is "concerned that threats from North Korea will be elevated next year."

Friday's news conference was the final event of Panetta's week-long tour of Asia that also took him to Indonesia and Japan.

While he promised the U.S. military will remain committed to all three countries and the Asian region in general, in South Korea he spelled out specific steps of how the United States would prove its commitment.

In a joint communique, released Friday, Panetta and Kim said "they decided to increase the combined watch activities on the North Korean situation."

Kim said earlier U.S. cooperation helped deter North Korea from staging even more provocative actions.

"Secretary Panetta and I have assessed that the bilateral response measures since North Korea's sinking of the Cheonan and artillery shelling of Yeongpan Island have successfully deterred further provocations by North Korea," Kim said.

Panetta said the greatest threat from North Korea is weapons of mass destruction.

"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."

The developments come on the heels of rare meetings this week between North Korea and the United States in Geneva on the regime's nuclear program. He expressed skepticism on Thursday about the likelihood of success from those meetings.

Friday he laid out what Washington expects of the North Koreans.

"Denuclearization means they have to stop testing, they have to stop developing weapons, they have to stop enriching in violation of international rules and requirements, and they have to allow the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] to go in and inspect those facilities."

Even as the nuclear issue continues to simmer, a new threat is emerging - cyber security.

The threat can't be ignored, Panetta said.

"This is a whole new arena of threats that we have to confront," Panetta said. "It's the weapon of the future in the battlefield of the future and for that reason we want to take steps to make sure were dealing with that threat."

Panetta left for the United States after his session in Seoul where, on Tuesday, the defense official confirmed, he'll meet with House members to discuss security in Asia as well as the rest of the world including Iraq, Libya and even Uganda.

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Filed under: North Korea • Panetta • South Korea
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Colin

    November 11th Incredible photos John. The imeags with terrific flare are my favorite but in general it's a wonderful peek into Korea that sates my wanderlust just a bit. Oh, also great to see that image of the river, taken so low down.

    October 11, 2012 at 4:16 am | Reply
  2. Kedax Hoppinsj

    Great post, you have pointed out some great points, I likewise believe this is a very great website.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  3. Don Bacon

    Actually it is the US/UN/ROK that does the provoking. First they claim DPRK territorial waters, then they fire into the area, then when DPRK fires back it's a provocation? Also the allies conduct extensive military exercises near DPRK in contravention of the 1953 Armistice Agreement.

    So the truth - surprise - is again the opposite of what the government tells the obedient press.

    October 29, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  4. pilot1

    This is exactly why we need to be pre-emptive. I propose we just go in and assasinate all the leadership outright and kill a million or two or the civilian population. That will make these squinty eyed bastards think twice about f#cking with us - the baddest nation on the planet -– GO USofA !

    October 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Reply
    • Buzz Mann

      But do we want to be known as the "baddest" or as the best.

      October 29, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Reply

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