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U.S. prepares for more North Korean provocations

By Robert Burns

AP National Security Writer

LAST UPDATED: 10:03 a.m. HST, Apr 07, 2013

BAGRAM, Afghanistan >> The top U.S. military officer said today the Pentagon had bolstered its missile defenses and taken other steps because he "can't take the chance" that North Korea won't soon engage in some military action.

Heightened tensions with North Korea led the United States to postpone congressional testimony by the chief U.S. commander in South Korea and delay an intercontinental ballistic missile test from a West Coast base.

North Korea, after weeks of war threats and other efforts to punish South Korea and the U.S. for joint military drills, has told other nations that it will be unable to guarantee diplomats' safety in the North's capital beginning Wednesday.

U.S. Gen Martin Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman who just wrapped up a visit to Afghanistan, was asked in an Associated Press interview whether he foresees North Korea taking military action soon.

"No, but I can't take the chance that it won't," he said, explaining why the Pentagon has strengthened missile defenses and made other decisions to combat the potential threat.

Dempsey said the U.S. has been preparing for further provocations or action, "considering the risk that they may choose to do something" on one of two nationally important anniversaries in April — the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung and the creation of the North Korean army.

U.S. Gen. James Thurman, the commander of the 28,000 American troops in South Korea, will stay in Seoul as "a prudent measure" rather than travel to Washington to appear this coming week before congressional committees, Army Col. Amy Hannah said in an email today to the AP.

Thurman has asked the Senate Armed Services Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense to excuse his absence until he can testify at a later date.

Dempsey said he had consulted with Thurman about the rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Dempsey said both Thurman and South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Gen. Jung Seung-jo, decided it would be best for them to remain in Seoul rather than come to Washington. The Korean general had planned to meet with Dempsey, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, in mid-April for regular talks.

Dempsey said that instead of meeting in person with Thurman and Jung in Washington, they will consult together by video-teleconference.

The Pentagon has postponed an intercontinental ballistic missile test that was set for the coming week at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, a senior defense official told the AP on Saturday.

The official said U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel decided to put off the long-planned Minuteman 3 test until April because of concerns the launch could be misinterpreted and exacerbate the Korean crisis. Hagel made the decision Friday, the official said.

North Korea's military said this past week that it was authorized to attack the U.S. using "smaller, lighter and diversified" nuclear weapons. North Korea also conducted a nuclear test in February and in December launched a long-range rocket that could potentially hit the continental U.S.

The U.S. has moved two of the Navy's missile-defense ships closer to the Korean peninsula, and a land-based system is being deployed to the Pacific territory of Guam later this month. The Pentagon last month announced longer-term plans to strengthen its U.S.-based missile defenses.

The defense official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the Minuteman 3 test delay and requested anonymity, said U.S. policy continues to support the building and testing of its nuclear deterrent capabilities. The official said the launch was not put off because of any technical problems.

Dempsey said he was not familiar with details of the Minuteman decision because he was traveling in Afghanistan.

But, he said, "it would be consistent with our intent here, which is to do what we have to do to posture ourselves to deter (North Korea), and to assure our allies. So things that can be delayed should be delayed."

A South Korean national security official said today that North Korea may be setting the stage for a missile test or another provocative act.

Citing North Korea's suggestion that diplomats leave the country, South Korean President Park Geun-hye's national security director said the North may be planning a missile launch or another provocation around Wednesday, according to presidential spokeswoman Kim Haing.

In Washington, an adviser to President Barack Obama said "we wouldn't be surprised if they did a test. They've done that in the past."

Aide Dan Pfeiffer told ABC's "This Week" that "the key here is for the North Koreans to stop their actions, start meeting their international obligations, and put themselves in a position where they can achieve what is their stated goal, which is economic development, which will only happen if they rejoin the international community."

He told "Fox News Sunday" that "the onus is on the North Koreans to do the right thing here," adding that "they are the source of the problem and the only way to solve this is for them to take a step back."

If they don't, there will be consequences, Pfeiffer said.

"They will be able to further isolate themselves in the world, they will continue to further hurt themselves. The North Korean people are starving because of actions like the ones North Koreans are taking right now."

U.S. Sen. John McCain said the North's young leader, Kim Jong Un, is playing a game of brinksmanship.

"In the past we have seen this repetitious confrontation, negotiation, incentives to North Korea to better behave, hopes that they will abandon their nuclear quest — which they never will, otherwise, they'd be totally irrelevant," McCain told CBS' "Face the Nation."

"And so we've seen the cycle over and over and over again, for last 20 or 30 years. They confront. There's crisis. Then we offer them incentives — food, money. While meanwhile the most repressive and oppressive regime on earth continues to function," he added.

McCain said China "does hold the key to this problem. China can cut off their economy if they want to."


Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor, Philip Elliott and Erica Werner in Washington contributed to this report.

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808Cindy wrote:
Continental U.S, .... It seems there is a lot of talk ... concerning the "Continental U.S" , I don't hear any concern about Hawaii, and we are a lot closer!
on April 7,2013 | 07:22AM
OldDiver wrote:
There is no threat. This is a corporate media driven story to boost viewership. This is a military defense contractor driven news story to boost military spending. Un could be killed anytime we desired and he knows it.
on April 7,2013 | 09:00AM
allie wrote:
agree..glad someone sees through the shibai.
on April 7,2013 | 09:09AM
hanalei395 wrote:
With the N. Korean leader being assassinated, the shooting war, the real shooting war with North and South Korea begins. And the S. Koreans, with their Hyundai, Kia, Samsung, etc., etc., don't want that to happen.
on April 7,2013 | 12:52PM
HD36 wrote:
If the US through the CIA could have assinated him, he would be dead a long time ago like the democratically elected leader of Iran who we assinated and installed the US friendly dictator, the Shaw of Iran. Unfortunatley he was overthrown as he was too friendly to our oil companies and the people of Iran were beggining to starve.
on April 7,2013 | 05:02PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
you underestimate what a crazy guy with nukes could do. he may not be able to attack US territory but certainly is capable of striking our bases in Japan and South Korea, where there are 80,000 Americans.
on April 7,2013 | 01:40PM
HD36 wrote:
I agree. It has the same media ferver that gained public support to attack Iraq for weapons of mass destruction. Since all the major media are owned by four large corporations the masses will believe anything if given enough to scare them.
on April 7,2013 | 04:52PM
allie wrote:
Hawaii is a pawn hon..it is not valued in any way. It is useful as a backwater military base to support the empire.
on April 7,2013 | 09:58AM
hanalei395 wrote:
A "backwater" base ("not valued in any way") that was attacked, and bringing the U.S. to war. (To Hawai'i, allie is NOT valued in ANY way".
on April 7,2013 | 01:16PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Lol al,lol...
on April 7,2013 | 01:18PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Allie, tell all them World War ll veterans who saw their fellow soldiers spill their Blood in Pearl Harbor the BackWater base. The most reverence military base in all of America! The base that all military past,present and future look to as a shining Icon of Sacrifice. The BackWater Military Base? Does North Dakota even have a sentry post? Do your part Allie, shut up. Mahalo.
on April 7,2013 | 01:27PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Go back to your indian reservation, you don't even deserve to be an American citizen.
on April 7,2013 | 01:41PM
lokahiblaze wrote:
Actually, off-the-wall, radical statements such as these serve at least one purpose--as signposts marking the far outer boundaries of dignified thought.
on April 8,2013 | 09:11AM
cojef wrote:
Sustainability is what North Korea lacks, once it starts an attack. That is the biggest deterent that is facing the North Koreans, if not for that the attack would have taken place by now. The belicose rhetoric is for show by the young Kim Jong Un to establish himself as a leader and to warn its citizenss that further sacrifices are needed because of the sanctions that have been imposed by the UN, with China's approval. That is where the greatest danger lies. When an animal is backed against the wall, the only recourse is attack. His military staff certainly knows it's suicide if they attempt an attack, so they have kept the young impestuous leader in check. For how long is the question???
on April 7,2013 | 07:30AM
serious wrote:
Should be interesting Kim vs Obama, two military geniuses. Where is HE? What course or fund raiser?
on April 7,2013 | 07:36AM
808warriorfan wrote:
on April 7,2013 | 07:49AM
sloturle wrote:
lez git it on aurigh
on April 7,2013 | 07:32AM
50skane wrote:
The insane leadership in North Korea will never stop pursuing a nuclear ICBM. That way they can hold the entire world hostage instead of just South Korea and everyone within 2000 miles. If the leadership in the U.S. gives in to North Korea's demands and hopes that they will have a change of heart in the future, then they better get ready for way worse when the North finally has ICBMs capable of nuking the mainland U.S. The U.S. has to end it now or it will be too late in several years. Let North Korea attack somewhere then annihilate them so they have no capability to build nukes or conventional military ever again. Millions may die now, but if we don't then many more will die in the future when they do have the ICBM's. Hopefully our leadership sees this terrible dilemma and will understand that it must end now or it will be too late later.
on April 7,2013 | 09:06AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
All this hysteria about North Korea. But here is something factual and real that happens to bother me a lot more:

The New York Times headline: American Strike on Afghan Taliban Kills Children

In the story the Times reports that in addition to killing a Taliban commander, the strike near the Pakistan border killed as many as 10 children.

Sorry, but to me that is just evil and way more important than the bluster of the fat Korean kid.

on April 7,2013 | 10:11AM
HD36 wrote:
JustForeign.Policy.org reported that around 500,000 children in Iraq were killed directly, and many more indirectly through starvation, disease and unexploded bunker buster bombs.
on April 7,2013 | 04:48PM
lokahiblaze wrote:
Surely some blame belongs to those commanders who use women and children as human shields.
on April 8,2013 | 09:12AM
HD36 wrote:
John McCain is the spokesman for the Military Industrial Complex. If he was president WWIII would already have been started. It starts with a threat, that is blown out of proportion, that creates panic, that justifies going to war. I've seen it before: Before the Vietnam War they said the communist we're going to take over the world; Iraq was "Weapons of Mass Destruction", but underneath all the bs, who benefits? Who makes the money off these? Who pays?
on April 7,2013 | 12:19PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
McCain is right, NK will never give up it's nukes, they would become irrelevant and likely taken over by SK eventually. China doesn't want that, they would have 30,000 American troops with nukes on their border instead of NK's border.
on April 7,2013 | 01:48PM
hanalei395 wrote:
China WILL NOT have U.S. ground troops just south of their border. The U.S. found that out during the Korean war. And which is the reason the U.S. did not send any ground troops into N. Vietnam .
on April 7,2013 | 02:33PM
HD36 wrote:
The US already spends more on military than the rest of the world combined. We're also the largest debtor nation in the history of the world. The Federal Reserve is holding up the economy by printing $85 billion dollars a month. Something big is going to happen. Throughout history, currency wars lead to trade wars which lead to military war.
on April 7,2013 | 04:22PM
HD36 wrote:
The founders of our Constitution made it clear that we stay out of foreign affairs. Look at Vietnam. Is it still a communist country?
on April 7,2013 | 04:16PM
jussayin wrote:
I guess it's too hard for Obama to try to talk to NK. Or maybe he did (?). In any case, the DOD is happy since this comes at a good time to justify their budget and their need for more, not less, money. And as another poster mentioned, more US troops and innocent civilians are getting killed in Afghan, etc. So hopefully US does everything possible to avoid a war.
on April 7,2013 | 02:01PM
GorillaSmith wrote:
I was in Seoul several years ago and saw a demonstration in which Korean students burned the US flag and demanded the US withdraw its troops from South Korea. I think if we immediately honored their demand, we could be out of there by sundown and the nutbags in North Korea would be someone else's problem.
on April 7,2013 | 02:23PM
HD36 wrote:
Very true. The real reason we went to war in Iraq was because Sadam wanted to trade oil in Euros only. The key to keeping America the most powerful country in the world is keeping the dollar's status as the world's reserve currency. Every country in the world must hold dollars if they want to buy oil from OPEC. If they could buy oil in their own currency, they would dump the dollars on the open market and the US would have a flood of dollars coming ashore creating massive inflation and a US Treasury Bond collapse. Libya also tried to create a gold dinar trade for oil and we took him out too. China is now trying to gain the status of the Word's reserve currency. They have executed bilateral trade agreements around the world bypassing the dollar. They have become the number one producer of gold.
on April 7,2013 | 04:31PM
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