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U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Transcript

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Republic of Korea Minister of Defense Kim Kwan-jin October 27, 2011

Joint Press Conference with Secretary Panetta and Republic of Korea Minister of Defense Kim in Seoul, Korea

MINISTER OF DEFENSE KIM KWAN-JIN: (Through translator.) This is the minister of national defense. (Inaudible) -- ROK-U.S. security consultative meeting, Secretary Panetta and I had the opportunity to evaluate our combined efforts towards building a comprehensive strategic alliance -- (inaudible) -- discussions on various bilateral security initiatives.

While seeking a mutual direction forward regarding the security aspect of our alliance that was discussed on the ROK-U.S. summit on 13 October, the -- (inaudible) -- (with ?) Secretary Panetta is deeply meaningful and that is a giant step forward in developing a multidimensional strategic alliance for the 21st century.

Moreover, we stressed that the ROK-U.S. combined forced posture has effectively contributed to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, as well as Northeast Asia, while also simultaneously deterring North Korean provocations.

Secretary Panetta and I reaffirmed our desire to continue the -- (inaudible) -- of a robust ROK-U.S. combined defense posture in the future.

To meet these goals the U.S. has agreed to immediately provide -- (inaudible) -- augmentation of forces during a crisis. In addition, as -- (inaudible) -- measure clearly demonstrating its -- (inaudible) -- commitment to the ROK, the U.S. has agreed to maintain the current USFK troop level and -- (inaudible) -- combined training and exercises on the peninsula, particularly near the Northwest Island.

Today, Secretary Panetta and I reaffirmed the recognition that the increase of North Korea’s asymmetric military capabilities, including development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, poses a serious threat, not only to the security of the Korean Peninsula, but also that of Northeast Asia and the world.

In particular, both nations have agreed to fully develop Extended Deterrence Policy Committee in order to enhance the effectiveness of the U.S. commitment to provide extended deterrence. We’ve also agreed to simultaneously -- (inaudible) -- a tailored bilateral deterrence strategy against North Korean nuclear and WMD threats.

Secretary Panetta and I have assessed that the bilateral response measures since North Korea’s sinking of the Cheonan and artillery shelling of Yeonpyeong Island has successfully deterred additional provocations by North Korea. We have also reaffirmed the desire to firmly respond to any future instances of North Korean provocation or attack. In addition, we have agreed to establish an effective bilateral response system against North Korean provocations by completing the ROK-U.S. Counter-Provocation Plan within -- (inaudible).

Moreover, the secretary and I assess that the Strategic Alliance 2015, which allows for efficient implementation of wartime operational control transition, is on track. Both nations reiterated they will continue to closely cooperative to ensure a smooth process in the future, particularly in regards to working together to meet the milestones of the USFK relocation plan.

In addition, Secretary Panetta concurred that the ongoing defensive -- (inaudible) -- of the Republic of Korea armed forces is vital to strengthening of the ROK-U.S. combined defense posture and security of the Korean Peninsula.

Secretary Panetta expresses appreciation for the ROK’s contribution toward global peace and stability -- (inaudible) -- in Iraq and Afghanistan, counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, as well as participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative. We’ve agreed to continue our close cooperation and tackle regional and global security challenges in the future.

Secretary Panetta and I agreed to seek solutions to all ROK-U.S. initiatives based on the mutual trust that embodies the spirit of our alliance. To achieve this end, we’ve come to an agreement on the establishment of the Korea-U.S. integrated defense dialogue, which will lead -- (inaudible) -- discussions on issues pertaining to the development of the alliance and major security matters, as well as oversee the various existing consultative mechanisms.

Lastly, I believe that the 43rd SCM and 35th MCM [Military Committee Meeting] have served as an important opportunity to further solidify the ROK-U.S. alliance. The ROK and the U.S. will continue to closely cooperate in the defense area to successfully support the development of a multidimensional strategic alliance.

Thank you.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON PANETTA: Thank you. Minister Kim, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to begin by thanking Minister Kim for his very kind and gracious hospitality during my first visit to the Republic of Korea as secretary of defense for the United States.

Two weeks ago, I had the honor of hosting both President Lee and Minister Kim at the Pentagon as part of President Lee state visit. So we had a chance to establish a strong working relationship.

As you know, today, we held the 43rd Security Consultative Meeting. Our talks focused on a number of issues critical to strengthening and transforming the alliance, which remains vital to the interests of both of our nations and a -- (inaudible) -- of stability in Northeast Asia.

Our discussions today reflected the alliance’s commitment to provide an enduring, resolute, and capable defense to the Republic of Korea.

For my part, I reaffirm that the United States continues to be fully committed to the security of the Republic of Korea and to provide the forces and military capabilities needed to maintain the security of the Korean Peninsula.

This is important because North Korea remains a serious threat. Pyongyang has demonstrated its willingness to conduct provocations that target innocent lives. And 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.

To deal with this threat, we discussed today the progress we are making in deepening and enhancing our combined capabilities. Together we’re enhancing the ability of our forces to operate jointly and strengthening our combined military exercise programs to increase readiness. And together we’re moving forward with the implementation of the defense guidelines and the alliance investments necessary for transition of wartime operations control in 2015.

Together, we will ensure a strong and effective alliance deterrence posture, including from United States’ nuclear umbrella, so that Pyongyang never misjudges our role and our capability to respond decisively to nuclear aggression.

And even as we remain focused into trying to make mutual security commitments on the peninsula, our discussions also confirm that this defense relationship is a -- is growing into a much broader and more comprehensive global alliance.

The fact is we are cooperating together to promote peace and stability beyond the Korean Peninsula.

South Koreans are serving with honor in Afghanistan and Iraq and in the Gulf of Aden. We are working together as part of a multilateral coalition to protect vital shipping lanes from the threat of piracy.

Lastly, we welcome Republic of Korea’s defense reform efforts and agree that a more efficient command structure and use of service capabilities can enhance military readiness and crisis response.

Close coordination with U.S. forces will ensure that the Republic of Korea’s defense reform efforts result in a stronger alliance.

As our alliance adapts, we’ll continue to look for opportunities to apply our shared strength from the wider range of security challenges.

Deepening United States-Republic of Korea alliance demonstrates the growing importance of Korea and of the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

It’s no secret that the United States faces some tough fiscal decisions back home. But let me reassure you and the Korean people that we are fully committed to sustaining and enhancing our military presence, our capabilities, and our activities in Asia and on the peninsula.

I want to -- (inaudible) -- that the economic and security future of the United States -- (inaudible) -- in the Asia-Pacific region in the 21st century. And this relationship, this alliance is crucial to the security of the United States and the security of this region.

And if I may, I’d ask for the Minister’s permission. I have one additional announcement that I wish to make. I’m pleased to announce along with the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that we are working to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the Libyan people.

On Saturday we will be airlifting 24 seriously wounded Libyan fighters to Spaulding Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. And an additional six critical cases will be transferred to U.S. military facilities in Germany for care.

All these fighters were injured in the recent fighting and the Libyan Ministry of Health identified them to us.

We offer this humanitarian gesture as a sign of our support because we are committed to Libya’s future.

And we will continue to stand by the Libya people and support them as they build a new democratic future.

Thank you.

MR. : (Foreign language spoken.)

TRANSLATOR: Now, we’ll continue the question and answer session. First we’ll take questions from members of the ROK press corps, followed by members of the U.S. press corps.

MR. : (Foreign language spoken.)

TRANSLATOR: It’s from the -- (inaudible) -- press corps.

Q: (Foreign language spoken.)

TRANSLATOR: (Inaudible.) My first question is in regard to the development of the combined provocation plan, which you mentioned will be completed within the year. It’s been mentioned that once the combined provocation plan is finalized -- (inaudible) -- provocation by North Korea, not only will USFK be involved, but also the possibility of -- (inaudible) -- are coming into the Korean Peninsula has been mentioned as well. So I’d like to ask if you -- (inaudible) -- specific details regarding the -- (inaudible).

And the second question is for Secretary Panetta. Following the North Korean artillery shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last year, the Korean armed forces said that -- (inaudible) -- provocation by North Korea, we all respond not only against the source of the provocation, but also against any supporting -- support -- (inaudible) -- that conducted the provocation. Is the fact that the ROK and the U.S. are jointly going forward developing a combined counter provocation plan mean that the U.S. agrees with these sentiments or is it more an effort by the U.S. to try to tone down what can be described as an aggressive tone taken by the ROK armed forces?

And the third question is regarding -- (inaudible) -- the development of the combined provocation plan -- (inaudible). Obviously, there is an external factor in the threat posed by North Korea that necessitated the development of such a plan, but on the other hand it also seems to signify that internally there is an issue -- there is an issue and a deficiency in the ROK-U.S. system that the -- (inaudible) -- respond to such provocations. So if there are any issues you could identify regarding the deficiencies -- (inaudible) -- be most appreciative.

MINISTER KIM: (Translated.) (Inaudible) -- minister of national defense, I’d like to answer your first question. As everyone is well aware, in past history, North Korea’s conducted provocations were -- (inaudible) -- to set the conditions that it finds advantageous. And next year, I believe that the possibility of North Korea conducting additional provocation is also very high given that it desires to become a strong and prosperous nation by the year 2012 and it’s also ongoing but -- (inaudible) -- third generation succession process.

In the combined counter provocation plan -- (inaudible) -- clearly in its completion stages and it’s a display of the national desire both of the ROK and the U.S. -- (inaudible) -- deter any additional provocations by North Korea and -- (inaudible) -- additional provocations with a strong response. And I think by developing such a plan the ROK and the U.S. would be able to come up with a timely and effective response in a situation that is not just an all-out war situation, but also when North Korea conducts local provocations as well.

And if North Korea is to conduct additional provocations, as I’ve emphasized time and time again since I’ve taken office as the minister of national defense, we will take the initial response in the form of self defense and this will be done with Korean assets and strongly responding against their provocation -- (inaudible) -- the time comes -- (inaudible) -- response -- (inaudible) -- available assets.

SEC. PANETTA: I think Minister Kim has addressed the issue that -- (inaudible) -- we are aware of the provocations and the provocations that North Korea engages in are serious threats to Korea. And as a result of that, our view is that we have an alliance -- an alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea -- and we can provide strong and effective responses to those kinds of provocations if we work together and if we consult with each other and if we develop the kind of coordinated response that we think is necessary. The purpose of the committee is really to try to work through just exactly how that coordination will be done and how best to make sure that a response is made to these kinds of provocations.

TRANSLATOR: (Foreign language spoken.)

MR. : The first question from the U.S. side is posed by Phil Stewart from Reuters.

Q: Mr. Secretary, just to be clear, are you saying that the next time there’s a provocation, the U.S. will respond with its own assets? And also, are you concerned -- (inaudible) -- the case necessarily, are you concerned that the South might need to moderate any future retaliatory steps given the political pressures here to respond? Thank you.

TRANSLATOR: (Foreign language spoken.)

SEC. PANETTA: The purpose of the committee is to develop a process for consultation. When these provocations take place, Korea is a sovereign country. They have the right to respond and to defend themselves. But because we have a United States-Republic of Korea alliance, we believe that it would be to the benefit of both sides to have close consultation when those events take place. And that’s the focus of the committee is to try to work through just exactly how it will take place.

TRANSLATOR: (Foreign language spoken.)

MR. : Adam Entous from the Wall Street Journal will ask the next question.

Q: Thank you. I had a question for both -- (inaudible). In the joint statement -- (inaudible) -- call on North Korea to demonstrate its good faith on demilitarization through concrete actions. Sorry. It’s a question for both of you. I apologize. In the joint statement, South Korea and the United States call on North Korea to demonstrate its good faith on demilitarization through concrete actions. Can you both explain what you’re looking to see them do next?

TRANSLATOR: (Foreign language spoken.)

SEC. PANETTA: With regards to North Korea and the issue of denuclearization -- that’s the word? On the denuclearization, obviously this is very important for North Korea to address if we’re hopeful of trying to establish better relations for the future. And it’s no secret that denuclearization means that 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 be able to go in and inspect those facilities. So all of those areas that have to be addressed and I think are in the process of being discussed with the North Koreans.

TRANSLATOR: (Foreign language spoken.)

MINISTER KIM: (Translated.) I agree that the only possibility to ease the military tension on the Korean Peninsula once North Korea -- (inaudible) -- it must stop its provocative behavior towards the Republican of Korea. From our perspective, that is -- (inaudible) -- achieve a deterrence effect and only then I believe will we be able to meet our objective -- (inaudible) -- changes of policy from the North Korean perspective, but on our side what we must do is to prepare ourselves with a robust defense posture that will responsd very strongly if North Korea ever conducts additional provocations.

Q: (Foreign language spoken.)

TRANSLATOR: A couple of questions for the minister of national defense and a couple of questions for the secretary of defense. First, to Minister Kim. If you look at the -- (inaudible) -- there has been mentioned cyber space -- (inaudible) -- and intelligence sharing -- security cooperation (based on intelligence ?) as well, and I believe that these have been -- this is the first time that such matters have been raised in the joint -- (inaudible). I was wondering if you could speak in more detail about the policy dialogue that you intend to pursue in terms of cyber security.

And for the U.S. secretary of defense, the fact you felt the need to increase such matters -- (inaudible) -- does that mean that you see an actual threat in these areas and -- (inaudible) -- space. I’d like to ask if that has anything to do with the (inaudible) system?

MINISTER KIM: (Translated.) The reason that -- (inaudible) -- because we believe that cyber threats can pose a significant threat in the future, especially in consideration of the capability that has been fostered by North Korea. We consider that North Korea’s cybersecurity capabilities can pose a significant threat to the national security of our nation. (Inaudible) -- the hope of the ROK and the U.S. to expand the scope of cooperation to newly emerging threats as well. And I think we’re beginning -- (inaudible) -- and that is why it is included in the joint -- (inaudible).

SEC. PANETTA: I think the minister has addressed that pretty well. This is a whole new arena of threats that we have to confront. We know what can be done using cyber to attack and to threaten Korea. We know that the cyber is now -- it’s a weapon of the future and the battlefield of the future. And for that reason we want to take steps to make sure that we’re dealing with that threat and dealing with threats from space as well. And that’s the purpose of this effort is to to try to develop the very close working relationship to confront those kinds of threats in the future.

TRANSLATOR: (Foreign language spoken.)

MINISTER KIM (?): (Foreign language spoken.) (Applause.)

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