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Presenter: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter November 01, 2015

Media Availability with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter at the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER: Thank you all for being here today. And you can see right behind me is North Korea and the DMZ. And being here shows you up close just how dangerous this part of the world is. And that's why our alliance with South Korea is ironclad and strong. And you see that by the strength of our soldiers here and their South Korean counterparts.

And the ever-present danger is the reason why we speak of the ability to fight tonight. That's the slogan up here. No one ever wants to have to do that. But deterrence is guaranteed through strength, and that's what the alliance is all about.

And our alliance is what Minister Han and I will be discussing over the next day-and-a-half. It was very nice of him to welcome me here. And I look forward, as I always do, to discussing issues and opportunities to improve our alliance together in working with Minister Han. So, once again, I thank him for taking the time to come up here and look forward to being with him later today and tomorrow.

And with that, I'll take your questions.

STAFF: Thomas?


Q: Hi, Mr. Secretary. Given the context that North Korea has had three nuclear tests and all indications point to there being a fourth, is there anything -- anything at all in what you've seen or heard that gives you any cause for -- any cause for optimism that North Korea will step off the nuclear path?

SEC. CARTER: Well, I -- not since I've been here. But we continue -- not only the United States and not only the United States and South Korea, but also China and Japan and Russia and the so-called six-party talks to call for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. And so that remains our policy. We remain committed to achieving that negotiated outcome with North Korea and believe that they should be on the path to doing less and ultimately zero in the nuclear field, not to doing more.

STAFF: June you've got questions?

Q: Sure, Mr. Secretary. Given the political infighting within the North Korean government, are you more or less pessimistic than you were a year ago about the prospects for stability on the peninsula?

SEC. CARTER: North Korea remains a closed society, one that we do not have full insight into, do not have normal and regular, but only occasion direct contacts with. And so we don't have a lot of insight into the North Korean government or the plans there. We continue to call on North Korea to maintain peace and stability on the peninsula, avoid provocations, avoid adding to tensions on the peninsula, and to take the steps that are called for in the six-party talks to denuclearize the peninsula and ultimately create a situation that is peaceful and prosperous for everyone on the peninsula.

But for now, that's not what we have. For now, what we have is what you see behind us, which is a very starkly divided and heavily defended border area. And that is the necessity that we see at this time, given that we have incomplete visibility into North Korea. That much we can see, the need for the alliance and the need for strength and the need for the soldiers you see around us.

STAFF: All right. Everyone, thanks very much.

SEC. CARTER: Thanks very much. Good to see you all.

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