“A nuclear-capable North Korea is a threat to not only Korea but also neighbors. (It has) 800 missiles that can reach many places outside Korea,” U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Leon LaPorte said
“North Korea is a very, very credible threat,” he said in a meeting organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea.
The U.S. military leader also disclosed that Washington would invest $11 billion to enhance USFK capabilities associated with security on the Korean Peninsula and bring into South Korea technologies tested in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We have invested in many technologies, and this technology works. It was battle tested in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are bringing that technology to Korea,” he said.
He added that the investment would be made to bring an Apache battalion, upgrade the Patriot missile system, introduce high-speed vessels and boost strategic mobility.
On the six-nation nuclear talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear ambitions, the American general expressed guarded optimism about the prospects for the meeting and underlined the importance of China's role in the multilateral negotiations.
“China has great influence in North Korea. The talks are going to be productive and we knew they were going to be slow,” he said.
Emphasizing that the alliance between South Korea and the United States would remain strong, LaPorte said U.S. President George W. Bush would probably make that point to President Roh Moo-hyun when they meet in Bangkok next week.