SEOUL — The top U.S. commander in South Korea said Thursday that North Korea was a “very, very credible threat” with more than 800 missiles capable of striking targets outside South Korea.
U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Leon LaPorte made the comments to a meeting organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in South Korea.
“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,” LaPorte said.
LaPorte also touted continuing efforts to enhance the capabilities of both the U.S. and South Korean militaries.
“We have invested in many technologies, and this technology works,” he said, referring to upgraded Apache Longbow helicopters and enhanced Patriot missile batteries.
“It was battle tested in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are bringing that technology to Korea.”
LaPorte also expressed optimism about the six-way talks over North Korea’s nuclear program.
“The talks are going to be productive, and we knew they were going to be slow,” LaPorte said.
The U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, Thomas Hubbard, said Thursday that if the U.S.-South Korean alliance is able to protect the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula, it also can play a key role in solving the North Korean nuclear problem and succeeding in the reconstruction of post-war Iraq.
During a speech at Sookmyung Women’s University, Hubbard said the United States wanted South Korea to play a greater role in world affairs.
He said if South Korea decided to dispatch troops to Iraq, it would result in many benefits, such as improving the lives and human rights of the Iraqi people, providing a chance for Iraq to achieve economic development as South Korea has and stabilizing the supply of oil in the Middle East.