SEOUL, South Korea, July 21, 2010 – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today announced new measures designed to bolster efforts to prevent North Korean weapons proliferation, curb the illicit activities that fund its weapons programs and discourage further provocative actions.
Clinton announced the measures here during a news conference following today’s „2-plus-2 Talks,“ in which she and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan and Defense Minister Kim Tae-young to discuss a broad range of issues.
The sanctions, Clinton said, strengthen enforcement of two United Nations Security Council resolutions by taking aim globally at individuals and entities that fund or facilitate North Korea’s proliferation activities.
„Let me stress that these measures are not directed at the people of North Korea, who have suffered too long due to the misguided and malign priorities of their government,“ she said. „They are directed at the destabilizing, illicit and provocative policies pursued by that government.“
Clinton said North Korea can achieve the security and international acceptance it seeks by halting its belligerent and threatening behavior and by taking irreversible steps to fulfill its commitment to jettison its nuclear arms program and comply with international law. In that case, she said, sanctions would be lifted, North Korea would receive energy assistance and other economic help, U.S.-North Korean relations would be normalized, and a permanent peace agreement would replace the current armistice on the Korean peninsula. „But as long as the North Korean leadership takes a different choice – continuing provocation, defiance and belligerence – it will continue to suffer the consequences,“ Clinton said.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, speaking through an interpreter at the news conference, said today’s talks were „far-reaching and in-depth,“ touching on security, the strength of the U.S.-South Korean alliance, North Korea, and regional and global cooperation.
The talks included a briefing on progress in developing a plan for operational wartime control of all forces on the Korean peninsula to transfer to the South Korean military by December 2015, Yu said. The final plan will be produced in time for a U.S.-South Korean consultative meeting scheduled in October, he added.
The four leaders also approved a plan for upcoming military combined exercises involving U.S. and South Korean forces, Yu said, and they observed that the U.S.-South Korea alliance is emerging as a global partnership, as evidenced by close cooperation in reconstruction and stabilization in places such as Afghanistan and Haiti.
„Both sides noted that today’s meeting was very productive and useful in furthering the development of a strategic [U.S. South Korean] alliance,“ Yu said, „and decided to consider holding further foreign and defense ministers meetings as necessary.“
Asked if he believes new North Korean attacks are imminent and whether the upcoming military exercises might provoke North Korea rather than deter it from aggression, Gates said the potential succession process for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who reportedly is seriously ill, is a factor, and he noted North Korea’s sinking of the freighter Cheonan in March that killed 46 South Korean sailors as one example that shows vigilance is necessary.
„There has been some indication over the last number of months that as the succession process gets under way in the North that there might be provocations,“ Gates said, „particularly since the sinking of the Cheonan. … I think taking steps that further strengthen deterrence and also demonstrate our determination not to be intimidated are very important.
„Yesterday we briefed in some detail on the first exercise that will take place beginning in a week or so,“ he continued, „and we have re-committed to the fact that we will continue these bilateral exercises, that we will conduct them both in the East Sea and the West Sea.“
The exercises also send a message that the U.S.-South Korean alliance is very strong and very close, and that the two nations will act together going forward in deterring further provocations, the secretary added.
Later, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak hosted a dinner for Clinton and Gates at the Blue House, his official residence.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)