Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Secretary of Defense Cohen Sept. 22 Tokyo Press Conference

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
Press Conference
U.S. Embassy, Tokyo
September 22, 2000
(as delivered)
QUESTION: You just mentioned in comments to Japanese parliamentarians
that the North [Korea] is going to have to soon realize that it will
rather quickly have to make some kind of concessions on the military
side to keep receiving economic and other assistance from South Korea
and the West. Could you tell us why you think that? Will this economic
aid and cooperation come to a screeching halt unless North Korea
begins to make some concessions to lower military tensions on the
SECDEF: Mr. Aldinger asked about my comments that I expressed at a
breakfast this morning when I addressed a group of Diet members. I
pointed out that there is great expectation on the part of many in
South Korea that the initiative begun by President Kim Dae Jung will
prove beneficial to the ultimate goal of reconciliation, but I also
noted that it cannot be a one way street. It cannot be a case where
there is a lack of reciprocity. The North cannot take the position
that the only basis for discussion will be whether or not economic aid
continues to flow north, so that it can rebuild its economy without
some corresponding reduction in military tensions. Otherwise, we would
see a situation in which the North continues to strengthen its
military, while calling on the South and perhaps the American and
Japanese peoples to build up its economic power. That is not a
situation that I think is either desirable or will be achievable. So,
reciprocity is the key. We believe, in the U.S., that this engagement
policy of President Kim Dae Jung is the correct one. We support him
and we also know that there has to be, over a period of time, some
indication on the part of the North Koreans that they are prepared to
reduce tensions, and that means that they will have to find some
confidence building measures that they will take in parallel step with
their South Korean counterparts to reduce those military tensions if
there is going to be a peaceful reconciliation.
QUESTION:  Will the economic aid stop?
SECDEF: I think that it is premature to speculate on that. I think we
have to wait and see how these initial talks unfold and then take it
step by step.
QUESTION: You talk about confidence-building measures between the
North and the South. What specifically are we talking about when we
talk about confidence-building measures -- what the North can be
doing, what can the South be doing? Secondly, you talk about increased
military actions in the North? Does the North represent a greater
threat now than it has before?
SECDEF: It doesn't represent a lesser threat than before as a result
of its training, I would say its forces are more prepared today than
they were a year ago; and so in that sense there's a greater state of
readiness on the part of the North Korean forces. Over the past year,
they have moved a number of their assets in a more forward deployed
status. They have continued their ground-testing of their missile
systems. They have not launched a Taepodong since the last one, but
nonetheless they continue their testing at the ground level. So I
would say that the threat exists, the chemical, biological,
potentially nuclear weapons, still poses a significant threat to the
region. In terms of confidence-building measures, these would have to
be negotiated by the South Korean military and the North Korean
military, but there are a variety of ways in which they could start to
step back: pulling forces back from their forward deployed status,
eliminating their weapons of mass destruction, having various types of
agreements -- notifications of training exercises and so forth --
there a long list of confidence-building measures that could be taken,
but that must be negotiated between North and South.

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