The U.S. strategic commander reaffirmed his commitment Tuesday to strong deterrence against potential threats by North Korea.
Adm. Cecil Haney, who led the U.S. Strategic Command, made the remarks while in Seoul for a four-day trip starting Sunday at a time when tensions remain heightened on the Korean Peninsula over North Korea’s continued provocative actions.
Haney’s trip here is part of his visit to the Asia-Pacific region, which also includes stops in Hawaii, Japan and Alaska.
The visit to South Korea serves as “the opportunity to continue strengthening partnerships and our alliance by discussing topics of mutual interest, including strategic deterrence,” Haney said in an email interview with Yonhap News Agency.
Stressing that America’s future “rests with the Asia-Pacific,” the commander pointed out that such interactions are vital as they “assure our allies and partners of our deterrence and the U.S. Pacific rebalance commitments, advance information sharing in space and cyberspace and deter potential adversaries,” he added.
The commander, however, refused to comment on his assessment about the situation in North Korea and its capabilities, as well as the potential deployment of the advanced U.S. missile defense system, the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery, on the Korean Peninsula.
Last week, the Ministry of National Defense said Haney will meet with officials here to discuss “how to jointly respond to threats by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs,” though the THAAD issue will not be on the table.
Washington has expressed its willingness to deploy the battery on the Korean Peninsula to better protect South Korea and some 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in the country from North Korea’s threats.
His visit came amid renewed tensions on the peninsula, as North Korea has been further zeroing in on developing ballistic missiles, miniaturized warheads to fit atop them and their delivery means. Last month, Pyongyang announced that it succeeded in conducting an underwater test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile.
As one of nine Unified Combatant Commanders of the U.S. established in 1992, the Strategic Command is in charge of missile defense, intelligence, global strikes and strategic deterrence, including its nuclear arsenal and combating weapons of mass destruction.