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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

DPB #84
MONDAY, AUGUST 21, 2000, 12:45 P.M.
QUESTION:  Korea?  There are simulated exercises, but they're
exercises that the US conducts with South Korea and they've been
scaled down.  The North Koreans are saying they should be called
off or else it could affect reconciliation between the two
Koreas.  Does the US have an opinion and would you cover whether
such activities 50 years after the Korean War, in light of what's
going on between the two Koreas, still makes sense?
QUESTION:  They still make sense?
QUESTION:  Nothing ever ends, right?  Korean Conflict -
MR. BOUCHER:  Well, I don't know, let's deal with the specific
and go to the general.  Ulchi Focus Lens is an exercise.  It is
routine.  It is a regularly scheduled exercise.  It is designed
to evaluate combined and joint coordination, our procedures,
plans and systems to conduct a contingency operation by the US
and South Korean forces.  The Pentagon obviously can give you
more details on the actual exercise.  It is not a provocative
exercise.  We would note that the North Koreans have also been
conducting military exercises this summer.
And while we welcome the growing dialogue between North and South
Korea and the improved atmosphere for cooperation, we do hope
that this will lead to a reduction in tensions.  But at the
moment, there is no significant change in the military situation
on the Peninsula.  Our forces remain there in cooperation with
our South Korean allies.  They tell us they want us to stay and
we continue to work there in cooperation with them.
QUESTION:  And I take it the US doesn't feel it should have any
impact on the progress in Korean reconciliation?
MR. BOUCHER:  No, we do not.  As I said, we have seen this
progress.  This is not a provocative exercise.  North Koreans
have held military exercises as well and that hasn't impeded the
progress.  So we would hope to see the progress continue and lead
to the kind of reductions in tension that we're all working for.
QUESTION:  Can you say that the South Koreans are as enthusiastic
about these exercises as they once were, as the US still is?
MR. BOUCHER:  This is something we do in cooperation with the
South Koreans.  We do them together, to exercise our joint
capability.  So, I don't think there is any distance between us
on this.
QUESTION:  Has there been any talk on the South Korean part about
maybe even further scaling them down or ending them?
MR. BOUCHER:  These things are decided, their nature, their
scope, the conduct of the exercise, it is decided jointly.  We
are doing what we and the South Koreans believe is appropriate.
(The briefing concluded at 1:15 p.m.)

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