Mullen Cites North Korea’s Unpredictability

WASHINGTON, Nov. 24, 2010 — North Korea’s artillery assault on South Korea’s Yeon­pyeong Island yes­ter­day is an issue of con­cern in a region that wants sta­bil­i­ty, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said today on ABC’s “The View” tele­vi­sion show.
Mullen, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Deb­o­rah, appeared on the day­time talk show to dis­cuss a range of issues, includ­ing the sit­u­a­tion on the Kore­an penin­su­la.

“There is wor­ri­some lead­er­ship in North Korea,” Mullen said. “[North Kore­an Pres­i­dent Kim Jong Il is] a very unpre­dictable guy, a very dan­ger­ous guy. This [attack] is also tied, we think, to the suc­ces­sion of his young, 27-year-old [son] who’s going to take over at some point in the future, and he con­tin­ues to gen­er­ate these kinds of events.”

Mullen said Amer­i­cans should be con­cerned about North Korea’s volatile pos­ture, but he not­ed that the Unit­ed States has 28,000 troops in South Korea, where “we are very much aligned with in sup­port­ing them.”

“They are a strong ally. We need the region to stay very sta­ble,” Mullen said. “[Kim Jong Il] is a guy who cre­ates insta­bil­i­ty rou­tine­ly. I think it’s very impor­tant, cer­tain­ly with the Japan­ese and the South Kore­ans, but I also think it’s impor­tant for Chi­na, to lead. The one coun­try that has influ­ence in Pyongyang is Chi­na, so their lead­er­ship is absolute­ly crit­i­cal.”

North Korea has worked hard to devel­op nuclear weapons, Mullen said, call­ing last week’s rev­e­la­tion of the ura­ni­um enrich­ment facil­i­ty there “a big deal.” He said the facil­i­ty has been described as sophis­ti­cat­ed and mod­ern.

“So, [If Kim Jong Il] con­tin­ues on that path with nuclear weapons, or his son does, it could be a very dan­ger­ous out­come in the long term and it will at least desta­bi­lize an impor­tant part if the world,” the chair­man said.

On the eve of Thanks­giv­ing, Mullen backed the idea of high-lev­el screen­ings and pat downs at air­ports.

“The recent events of the two car­go planes that had bombs on them, and cer­tain­ly the bomb in Times Square, the Detroit bomber [Christ­mas Day 2009], were all very real and indica­tive of the threat that’s out there,” he said. “[Ter­ror­ists] are still try­ing to kill as many Amer­i­cans as they can, so it’s not going to go away.”

Turn­ing to the pos­si­ble repeal of the military’s so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” pol­i­cy, Mullen said it is dif­fi­cult to know what the out­come will be.

“For me,” Mullen said, “it’s been my per­son­al view it is very dif­fi­cult for an insti­tu­tion that val­ues integri­ty like the mil­i­tary does to have peo­ple show up at work every day and lie about who they are.”

Deb­o­rah Mullen said she works with fam­i­lies of return­ing vet­er­ans. She’s also con­cerned about military’s sui­cide rate, not­ing that it is the “most dev­as­tat­ing loss to a fam­i­ly.”

“Sui­cide is taboo in the civil­ian world. Nobody likes to talk about sui­cide,” she said. “There real­ly have been no stud­ies done on sui­cide, and the mil­i­tary is going to lead the way on this because they began a study on sui­cide about a year ago on a five-year study.”

What the mil­i­tary learns about sui­cide will be shared with the rest of nation and the world, she said.

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

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