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 Peninsula? 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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