January 28, 2011 08:45
The U.S. Defense Department believes North Korea will become a "direct threat" in the next few years.
Commenting on Defense Secretary Robert Gates' remark that North Korea is "becoming a direct threat to the United States" during his visit to China some two weeks ago, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Wednesday, "By that he doesn't mean at this very moment. But given their pursuit of both the nuclear weapons and their ballistic-missile capabilities, that he sees them being a direct threat not within five years, but sooner than that."
"And that's of real concern to us," Morrell added. "That's why we worked with the Chinese, with the Japanese, with others, to try to impress upon the North that they've got to...cut out this provocative behavior, the destabilizing behavior, and they've got to seriously re-evaluate their pursuit of nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles."
The spokesman also commented on news reports that U.S. President Barack Obama told his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao that the U.S. would redeploy U.S. troops in Asia unless China applies pressure on the North. "Over the long-term lay-down of our forces in the Pacific, we are looking at ways to even bolster that, not necessarily in Korea and Japan, but along the Pacific Rim, particularly in Southeast Asia," he said.
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