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Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Monday warned North Korea against creating a “crisis atmosphere” and promised that the U.S. will continue to back its allies in the region.
“We will continue to provide the extended deterrence offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella,” said Carter, who just returned from a trip to the Korean Peninsula. “We will ensure all our capabilities remain available to the alliance.”
Carter told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the U.S. has demonstrated, especially in recent weeks, that it is “committed to maintaining peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and throughout the Asia Pacific Region.”
“The North Koreans are determined to create a crisis atmosphere,” Carter stressed. “Just because they have the habit of indulging in extreme rhetoric doesn't mean that we don't take the situation seriously.”
There is fear that North Korea will detonate a fourth nuclear bomb. North Korea tested its first nuclear device in 2006, its second in 2009 and its third in February. A fourth nuclear bomb could throw the region in chaos, creating a greater sense of instability.
In response, the U.S. has increased its missile defense systems, most recently adding 14 ground-based interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, also adding new radar systems in Japan, providing improved early warning detection.
The Pentagon flew B-52 bomber training exercises over South Korea on March 8.
Ten days later, at a news conference at the U.S. embassy in Seoul, Carter noted the presence of American strategic bombers training in the Korean peninsula, saying it was routine but affirming the U.S. superior military capability.
The U.S. and South Korea are set to conduct another exercise that will take place later this month, likely causing more tensions with North Korea.