1998 Congressional Hearings
Special Weapons
Nuclear, Chemical, Biological and Missile


Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Asian and Pacific Affairs)


Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

September 10, 1998

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee, I welcome the opportunity
to represent the Department of Defense in this hearing on U.S. policy
toward the Korean Peninsula.

I would begin my statement by emphasizing that in a time of
uncertainty about the ultimate outcome of tensions on the Korean
Peninsula, the 44-year old U.S. alliance with the Republic of Korea
serves as a bulwark against any forces that would seek to disturb the
existing peace. The stability fostered by this close security
relationship has benefited not only the U.S. and South Korea, but has
also permitted much of the Asia-Pacific region to pursue economic
growth and democratic development.

In deterring aggression from an often unpredictable and highly
militarized North Korea, the U.S. has helped create an environment in
which Asian states could pursue a development course compatible with
American values and beliefs. This is particularly true in the case of
South Korea. As a result, the security alliance between the U.S. and
the Republic of Korea is more than a treaty commitment -- it is a
close, mutually beneficial partnership built on a shared stake in
democracy and free markets. Our alliance is an essential element of
the strategy for achieving our long-standing security goal -- a
non-nuclear, democratic, and peacefully reunified Korean Peninsula.
Even after the North Korean threat passes, the U.S. will coordinate
fully with the ROK to maintain a strong bilateral alliance in the
interest of regional security.

The need for a combined U.S.-ROK military command and force structure
to protect our common values is more compelling than ever. Today the
United States and South Korea confront twin security challenges on the
Korean Peninsula -- deterrence of armed conflict and preparation for
crises short of war.

On the first challenge, North Korea's large conventional military
forces continue to threaten the security of the Republic of Korea.
Two-thirds of its 1.1 million military personnel are positioned within
100 kilometers of the Demilitarized Zone, with a substantial artillery
force capable of striking Seoul with little advance notice. In
addition, as North Korea demonstrated by its recent missile launch, it
possesses missiles that not only range the entire Peninsula but reach
far beyond it as well. The U.S. and ROK continue to focus their
security cooperation on deterring the use of this military capability,
whether in an all-out attack on South Korea or in a more limited
military provocation.

At the same time, deteriorating economic conditions within North Korea
and a serious food shortage rooted in the structural failure of the
North's agricultural management system raise questions about future
developments in the North. In this setting, it would be irresponsible
for the U.S. and ROK not to consult closely and be prepared for a
range of contingencies that could occur on the Korean Peninsula. The
North Korean state and its security apparatus still exercise absolute
control over their country and show no sign of loosening their grip.
But the U.S. and ROK cannot ignore the possibility, given the
trajectory of North Korean domestic developments, that potentially
destabilizing conditions could arise in the North in the form of
famine, massive refugee flows, or other disturbing scenarios. The U.S.
and ROK would seek to address such situations in a way that was least
disruptive to regional stability and to resolve them at the lowest
level of tension possible.

Without a close defense alliance between the U.S. and South Korea, we
would not be able to respond effectively to these challenges to our
security interests. It is also important in a time of transition and
uncertainty that we give no signals to North Korea that the calculus
of the U.S.-ROK security relationship, which has served us so well, is
changing. We will continue to strongly counter any perception in
Pyongyang that it can drive a wedge between the U.S. and ROK on
security issues.

U.S.-ROK combined forces are well-equipped and prepared to deter and,
if necessary, defeat aggression. But maintaining capable and ready
forces is a constant process. The U.S. is engaged in ongoing efforts
to modernize its Peninsular force of about 37,000 military personnel
with the latest military equipment. These measures have been
complemented by ROK efforts to outfit its military with the most
modern tanks, armored personnel carriers, self-propelled howitzers,
and fighter aircraft. The ROK commitment of resources to defense has
been impressive, even during the current economic crisis. The ROK
maintains 670,000 personnel in uniform and has pledged more than $1
billion in cost-sharing support for U.S. military forces on the
Peninsula from 1996-1998.

Our security objectives in Korea have been greatly aided by diplomatic
breakthroughs during the past several years. In particular, the
engagement process begun by the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework, which
froze the North's nuclear program at Yongbyon and its destabilizing
potential, has defused the most immediate source of tension and
deflected what could have been a military confrontation with North
Korea. With the agreement and our underlying security commitment, we
have preserved stability on the Peninsula and created an opening to
pursue the Four Party peace proposal and other issues of concern, such
as missile proliferation and the recovery of Korean War remains. The
Agreed Framework has also provided greater access to North Korea and
some North-South contacts. At the same time, the Agreed Framework has
been under stress as a result of irresponsible and provocative North
Korean acts. We are determined to address these concerns with the DPRK
and ensure its full compliance with the agreement.

Permanent peace on the Peninsula will be accomplished only through
diplomatic/political means, and the Agreed Framework and Four Party
peace proposal begin that process by laying a groundwork for uncoerced
reconciliation between South and North Korea. We must recognize,
however, that these are only initial steps in a long and difficult
course. Our desire for a long-term, stable peace on the Peninsula will
not be realized overnight, but that reality does not diminish the
value of current initiatives toward North Korea. The alternative could
very well be direct conflict with the North, which would take a
devastating toll in lives and resources. For this reason, it is
important for the U.S. to back the Agreed Framework, and the
international consortium that implements its provisions, with the
resources that will permit it to succeed.

Until North and South Korea find a peaceful solution to their
differences, we remain committed to the terms of the 45-year old
Armistice Agreement. The Armistice Agreement and its mechanisms must
remain until an appropriate arrangement supersedes them. Only South
and North Korea can resolve the division of Korea; therefore,
replacement of the Armistice by an appropriate agreement can come
about only through direct dialogue between South and North Korea. The
U.S., while addressing near-term security concerns, has worked hard to
promote such a dialogue.

(end text)