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N. Korea creating conditions for 'potential conflict': U.S. Army chief

All Headlines 03:23 April 08, 2016

WASHINGTON, April 7 (Yonhap) -- An increasingly assertive China and a provocative North Korea are creating conditions for potential conflict, the U.S. Army chief of staff said Thursday.

"In Asia and the Pacific there are complex systemic challenges with a rising China that is increasingly assertive militarily, especially in the South China Sea, and a very provocative North Korea," Gen. Mark Milley said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

"Both situations are creating conditions for potential conflict. Again, the United States Army is key to assuring our allies in Asia and deterring conflict or defeating the enemy if conflict occurs," he said without elaborating on potential conflict.

Pyongyang has been ratcheting up tensions with threats of attacks, claims of breakthroughs in its nuclear and missile programs and a series of short- and medium-range missile launches in defiance of international sanctions imposed for its January nuclear test and February rocket launch.

Experts have warned the communist nation could engage in more direct provocations, such as naval skirmishes near the tense maritime border off the west coast or clashes along the land border, as leader Kim Jong-un tries to assert his leadership ahead of May's key congress of the ruling Workers' Party.

Milley and Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy also said in written testimony submitted to the committee that the North's "nuclear and missile developments, in combination with routine acts of provocation in the Demilitarized Zone, continue to pose an imminent threat to regional security in Northeast Asia."

"The Army's assigned and rotational forces in the Republic of Korea, Japan, and throughout the Asia-Pacific region today provide a deterrent and contingency response capability that strengthens defense relationships and builds increased capacity with our allies," they said.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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