Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Wednesday North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs pose a global threat after Pyongyang unveiled unseen ICBMs at a pre-dawn military parade.
The appearance of a new ICBM during a weekend parade in North Korea intrigued many Western analysts.
However, officials in South Korea were far more concerned about the presentation of new multi-launch missile systems (MLRS) and faster, more agile, short-range missiles that would be ideal for targeting in the south.
Speaking before a meeting with South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook at the Pentagon, Esper said, “We agree that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs continue to pose a serious threat to the security and stability of the region and the world.”
“The United States remains committed to the security of the Republic of Korea,” said Esper.
He added, however, that South Korea and the United States must find a fairer way to share defense costs so that “American taxpayers are not unevenly affected.”
US President Donald Trump, who has touted his relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has repeatedly stated that Seoul should pay more of the cost of the US forces stationed in the south.
There are around 28,500 American troops deployed in South Korea, which is seen as a deterrent to Pyongyang and also sends a message to China about U.S. influence and capabilities in Asia.
Separately, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing Pyongyang’s lack of ICBM testing last year, told reporters on Wednesday that Trump’s policies put the United States at lower risk from North Korea.
South Korea’s national security advisor Suh Hoon is also in Washington this week to hold previously unannounced meetings with his US counterpart and Pompeo, the South Korean presidential house announced in Seoul on Thursday, the Blue House.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)