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NEWS | Nov. 2, 2015

Joint press briefing by Secretary Carter and Minister Han Min-goo in Seoul, South Korea

MINISTER OF DEFENSE HAN MIN-GOO (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I proclaim my gratitude to the press corps. Today, Secretary Carter and I have hosted the 47th Annual ROK-U.S. Security Conclave Meeting. This meeting has been the fourth meeting this year that I have had with Secretary Carter and it was a valuable time during which we looked back on the fruits of the ROK-U.S. alliance since last year's SCM.

Secretary Carter and I have discussed in depth the direction of the future development of the ROK-U.S. alliance and various security issues, including the policy collaboration against North Korea's nuclear threat, as well as defense cooperation in space and in cyberspace discussed at the October Summit.

Through such consultation, the ROK and the United States have agreed on the following alliance issues. First, Secretary Carter and I have assessed that the close collaboration between the ROK and the United States have an effective and successful deterrence of additional North Korea complications, as well as a stable management of the situation during North Korea's DMZ provocations in August, and having decided to strenuous respond in a joint matter to any North Korean provocation threat in the future based on a robust -- (inaudible) -- collaboration.

Second, Secretary Carter and I have approved the implementation guidance on the concepts of the ROK-U.S. alliance comprehensive counter missile operations (inaudible) content and pledge to mutually cooperate for systematic implementation of the guidelines in order to prepare for the -- with the escalating North Korean missile threat, such as the advancement of North Korea's nuclear warhead militarization technology and SLBM test launches.

To this end, we have decided to continue close consultations to develop comprehensive alliance capabilities, including the Kill Chain and the KDMD, which is interoperable within the alliance.

Third, ROK and the U.S. agreed to and signed the condition-based OPCON transition plan, which has been developed jointly since last year's 46th SEN, and decided to faithfully materialize its plan in order to ensure a stable war-time OPCON transition at a proper time.

Fourth, Secretary Carter and I have shared common views on the gravity of the transnational space and cyberspace threats in line with the ROK-U.S. summit.

Under such common acknowledgement, the ROK and the United States have decided to expand cooperation into space and cyberspace areas, which is promoting cooperation in space defense through a tabletop exercise, and strengthening the alliance capabilities that allows the alliance to regularly respond to challenges in development space.

Additionally, the Republic of Korea and the United States have assessed that the firm and combined defense posture is contributing effectively to peace and stability in the north -- in the Korean Peninsula. And the Northeast Asia region as well, as the deterrence of North Korean provocations, the United States have reaffirmed its determined and firm commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea, by continuously strengthening the combined defense posture.

Through this means, the Republic of Korea and the United States have achieved a meaningful result by reaffirming the iron-clad ROK-U.S. alliance, and how it is expanding and deepening into a future-oriented, comprehensive and strategic alliance for the military alliance.

Lastly, the Republic of Korea and the United States will closely cooperation so that the Iraq-U.S. alliance continuously develop into a comprehensive global alliance, which goes beyond the Korea Peninsula, and contributes to regional and global peace as a linchpin of peace and stability for the agencies in the region.

Thank you.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER: Thank you and good afternoon, everyone. And Minister Han, thank you. And thank you also for your hospitality, and for yesterday's very important meeting at the DMZ.

I was also delighted that both you and President Park, during her highly successful visit last month in Washington. We in the Pentagon were particularly honored that President Park took the time out from her busy White House schedule to come to the Pentagon.

And now, I also want to say how greatly I respect and value the strong leadership and great friendship of Minister Han.

This is my third trip to this region as secretary, my fourth time meeting with Minister Han. From President Obama to the U.S. Department of Defense, our rebalance in the Asia-Pacific region remains a top priority.

Today, we led, together, the 47th annual U.S.-Korea Security Consultative Meeting. Think about that -- 47th.

That's a reflection of our -- the length of the time that this alliance has been, as Minister Han said, the linchpin of security in this region.

And over the years, circumstances may change, and technology may change, but what doesn't change is our determination to move forward, our partnership, to deter and respond to North Korean threats.

In this meeting, our alliance took a major step forward when we signed the condition-based approach to the transition of wartime operational control. That approach will ensure that the Republic of Korea forces have the necessary defensive capabilities to address the North Korean threat.

As Minister Han indicated, earlier we were able to report together, to you today, a number of steps we took forward. Because the U.S.-ROK alliance is always moving forward. We agreed to establish a new, high-level defense technology strategy and cooperation group. It's a very broad agenda to deepen defense technology engagement, as defense trade fits within our foreign policy and our national security strategy.

This will be an important forum for us to cooperate and exchange information across a broad range of programs and technology. We also spoke, candidly, today about North Korean threats -- nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, cyber, conventional military threats.

Those threats continue to put at risk the peace and security of the Peninsula, the region, and the United States. And that's why we are committed to creating the Deterrence Strategy Committee, to leverage the full range of alliance capabilities, so that we can more effectively deter and if necessary, defend against or respond to those threats.

As I said at Shangri-La in May, the United States' purpose is to strengthen the Asia-Pacific security architecture so that all nations in the region can continue to rise, and prosper and win.

And that's a reason why a trilateral defense relationship between the United States, Korea and Japan is also very important.

I know that President Park recently met with Prime Minister Abe, and also with Prime Minister Li of China. And I commend her for her leadership in that regard.

Let me close by noting that yesterday, I visited the DMZ. Last time I was here, I visited the Cheonan Memorial. Both are stark reminders that North Korea is an up close, dangerous, and continuing threat to the security of the Peninsula and the region.

But together, we will meet that threat. Together, we will stay ready to fight tonight and we will ensure that the strength of our alliance remains iron clad and we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder here in the Republic of Korea.
(inaudible). … minister, I appreciate your hospitality and -- (inaudible).

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to change the order of the questions and we'll follow from Korean press, U.S. press, Korean press, then the U.S. press, and if we have time, we'll take a question from foreign press.

Q (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I'm from the Yonhap News, I have three questions, first of which will be addressed by both Secretary Carter and Minister Han. My first question relates to the South China Sea. The United States is continuing to ask for a more active role in the Republic of Korea -- (inaudible) -- the South China Sea. I'd like to hear what your stance is on that matter.

My second question relates to Japan and their right -- their claimed right to collective self defense. There has been a difference in opinion between the Korean government and the Japanese government on this issue. The Korean government claims that by its constitution, the entirety of the Korean peninsula falls under sovereign territory. Japan, however, only acknowledges the territory below the military demarcation line as a Korean territory. I'd like to hear what the United States stance on this issue is.

My final question is address to Minister Han. The last CM I believe it was in December of last year, you have a -- we -- have decide to conduct bilateral military information sharing, and on this XCM, I believe you have discussed matters that build upon this agreement. And I'd like to hear from Minister Han as to what his way forward is in terms of promoting such military information sharing in a more active manner.

MIN. HAN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): So that's two questions for each of us. I'll answer first, Mr. Secretary, to give you a little more prep time for your questions.

Firstly, concerning the South China Sea, this is a maritime route that is very important to us and our interests, because 30 percent of our exports go through these routes, 90 percent of import and energy also goes through these routes and it is our stance that the freedom and navigation and the freedom of flight should be ensured in this area. And in terms of any conflict that is (to rouse in the South China Sea, it is our standpoint that they should be resolved within the framework of international law.

And we have on many occasions and in many multilateral dialogue platforms have asked to refrain from any action that -- that threatens the peace and stability of this area. We also -- it is also our stance that any action or any conflict should be resolved within already established agreements, like the declaration of conduct, DOC. We also implore and we hope for the early agreement -- early settlement and agreement of the code of conduct, the COC.

Concerning the second question of information sharing. During this year's FCN, we have discussed and assessed many promises that have been made since that agreement came into effect and -- (inaudible) -- agreement last year. And more specifically, we have mentioned on many occasions that earlier this year, we had actually utilized the agreement on two separate occasions to actually share military information between our U.S. friends and the government in Japan.

Through this SCM, we have also discussed ways to enhance the systematic groundwork so that we may use this agreement and utilize this agreement in a more effective manner.

SEC. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Minister. Well, with respect to the South China Sea, I think the minister summarized quite well not only ROK principles for issues in the South China Sea, but ones that are widely shared, including by the United States. And just to give you the U.S. position, we too do not take sides in territorial disputes, but we do staunchly stand on the side of resolving them peacefully and freedom of navigation for the reasons the minister indicated, and also the important principle that these -- that there not be any further dredging or militarization in the South China Sea.

That is something that the United States called for a halt on by all parties in the South China Sea, and of course, over the last year, the party that's done the most with that kind of that kind of dredging and military activity has been China and there -- that is why it was important -- particularly important that President Xi indicated when he was in Washington that China intended to halt militarization. He called on all parties to do that.

For the very reason indicated by the Minister it is a vital life line we all depend, and especially north east Asia, Korea, Japan and China. And the last thing I'll say is not only that the Republic of Korea, but many countries in the region are concerned about developments in the South China Sea and that is why so many countries in the region are seeking -- now just speaking for the United States, greater partnership with us in the areas of maritime security.

Now, U.S. -- (inaudible) -- long standing commitment to work together in the areas of maritime security, we have an alliance that's focused on the Korean Peninsula, but there's also a global scope as we have demonstrated on a number of occasions in recent years.

With respect to Japan, I'll just say this, still speaking for the United States. We have important alliances with both Japan and the Republic of Korea and both of those alliances are based on international law, improving respect for the full sovereignty of all countries. And so we believe that any issues that arise in connection with the North Korean provocations can be handled in the context of our two alliances.

MODERATOR: Question Bob Burns from the AP.

Q: Thank you. You'll be happy to hear that I just have one question -- (inaudible).


SEC. CARTER: But it has three parts.


Q: Mr. Secretary, you said a minute ago that you have agreed to a conditions-based approach to transferring war time control to the South Koreans.

Did you do it -- did you agree on the specific conditions in it – and if so, what are they? And may I also pose a question to Minister Han at the same time, on the same subject?


Q: Sir --

Q: Oh, I'm sorry.

Q: Sir, Minister Han, the question is, after more than 60 years of working with the United States’ military, the United States’ government, and having developed what is perhaps the most capable military in the region, and one of the world's most powerful economies, with tremendous industrial and technological accomplishments, why, after all this time and effort, all these accomplishments in South Korea is not ready yet to have control of these armed forces in war time?

Thank you.

SEC. CARTER: Let's see. The plan that we approved today does specifically spell out in steps that will create the conditions for successful transfer of OPCON. That's the purpose.

And just to name a couple -- (inaudible) -- analogy to fail, and just to name a few principle ones, are the further development of command and control, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in the ROK forces.

And secondly, another that is notable is counter artillery capabilities.

Now, I'm going to answer the question you asked Minister Han also, which is why is it the ROK needs time to develop those capabilities -- it's simply because, in the past, the United States would carry out the task, because we have -- we were planning on having OPCON.

Now that the ROK will have OPCON, it needs some of the capabilities that used to be done ahead by the United States only. So, it's developing those capabilities, and that's why it takes a little bit of time to reach the point of OPCON transition. And that's why we're taking the time to get there in a way that, without the Republic of Korea fully discharge those important responsibilities.

MIN. HAN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Since Mr. Secretary, you've answered both questions, I think I'll answer both as well.

First, returning to OPCON transition. Last year, when we agreed that the OPCON transition should be occurred on a condition basis, we've laid out three conditions at that time.

And of course, Secretary Carter, your answer -- much -- some of the conditions were laid out, but to give our conceptual explanation, the first condition was that the Republic of Korea armed forces gain its key military capabilities.

It's second was that we gained response capabilities in the face of North Korean nuclear and missile threats.

And the third condition was concerning the assessment of the security environment, not only on the Korean Peninsula, but also within the region.

And to your second question, which I believe was, you said, despite the fact that Korea, over the past six decades, have enjoyed dramatic progress in the realm of political, economical, and social and cultural progress, the question of why Korea still fails to promote autonomous self-defense -- I'll answer that question now.

As you have so keenly mentioned, it is true that Korea has enjoyed dramatic progress in the aforementioned areas. But we also have significant military capabilities and the will to promote further military capabilities.

However, if we look deeply into some global trends in terms of national security, no -- any -- no country in the world can conduct -- many countries in the world, excuse me, conduct its self defense in the form of cooperation with regional and global partners.

And the reason we still do not conduct a solely unilateral self-defense is that Korea has assessed that it is best for Korea that it continues to promote its autonomous self-defense capabilities, while taking into consideration the special geo-political considerations that surrounds the Korean Peninsula, thereby maintaining alliances with key partners, as well.

Q (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Two questions. First will be addressed to both the secretary of defense and the minister of national defense, second question will be designated directly to Secretary Carter.

The first question relates to the terminal…to the THAAD [Terminal High Altitude Area Defense]. Lockheed Martin has recently changed its statement regarding THAAD here in Korea. Secretary Carter, you mentioned earlier this year that the United States is not in discussion with any country regarding the deployment of THAAD. I'd like to know during state discussions whether there was any discussion relating to THAAD and if so, I'd like to know what the contents of that discussion were.

The second question is, considering the KF-X program, you've just announced that you will be creating a working group. I was wondering, within the framework of that working group whether it be for the technologies that were denied transfer, including the AESA radar, can -- there any possibility of transfer of those technologies within that working group or was there any possibility of cooperation also related to those technologies?

MIN. HAN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I'll answer first. In this SCM, the THAAD was not in the official agenda and was not discussed and we have not made any agreements relating to THAAD.



THAAD was not discussed today. And with respect to technology cooperation, the important advance that the minister and I made today in creating this new body is to make possible a wider range of cooperation in defense technology and trade than the United States and the ROK have had up to now. That's why it's a new, different, very high-level group, and it's what should make possible cooperation in -- on lots of (inaudible). You mentioned KF-X -- the United States is very supportive of the KF-X program.

Our law limits certain technologies in the way that they can be shared with the Republic of Korea and we -- this body isn't going to be able to change U.S. laws, of course, but we will be working on technology cooperation in a host of ways, including KF-X, wherever that is possible.

Q (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Mr. Secretary, I have a follow up question for the THAAD issue. Since it wasn't discussed, is there a possibility looking at the next few years that THAAD could be brought -- could be deployed to South Korea?

SEC. CARTER: The only thing I'd say to that is that it, like any new capabilities, would be an alliance decision. So I can't speak for the alliance. The introduction of any new capabilities would be an alliance decision. So if there is an alliance decision to move forward with THAAD or any other system in the future, obviously, would be an alliance decision and the United States in context with the alliance would support that, but it was not discussed today.

MODERATOR: It's time for the U.S. questions.

Q: Thank you very much. Yesterday, the leaders of South Korea, Japan and China gave a statement for meaningful six-party talks on the North Korea Situation. Both of you have mentioned recent threats by North Korea to conduct other missile tests or nuclear tests. Is this the right moment to be opening the door again to six-party talks? And has there been in any shift form either of your governments in terms of the pre-conditions that you've established for such talks?

And Mr. Carter, I want to quick call up, as you mentioned President Park and President Abe are meeting this morning or have met already after three years of considerable friction between Seoul and Tokyo. How damaging (inaudible)-- your two best allies in north east Asia -- (inaudible)?

MIN. HAN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): During the first question of the six-party talks, the Korean government retains its stance that the six-party talks can act as an effective platform to -- for de-nuclearizing North Korea. But in terms of as to when we might reinstate and restart six-party talks, or as to whether or not these pre-conditions for restarting the six-party talks have been met, I, as minister of national defense, in my capacity (inaudible) in answering these questions.

SEC. CARTER: With respect to our relations with both Japan and the Republic of Korea, they are both essential and longstanding and very close allies of the United States. So yes, we'd like to -- we, the United States, would promote good cooperation between Japan and the ROK. And for sure, there are legacy historical issues, and we recognize that and we -- we hope that they are pursued and attempt to assist the advancement of healing in those issues.

But there are very constructive contacts between the two countries -- the leaders of the two countries, including just recently, and I should also say between the militaries of the two countries. And we are pleased to also participate in trilateral discussions on security issues in the region and around the world with Japan and the Republic of Korea. I participated in such meetings, they've been very fruitful, and so both bilaterally and trilaterally, there is -- there are ongoing discussions in security (inaudible) potential to do much more.
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