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Esper says U.S. continues to face threats from N. Korea, other rogue states

All News 04:49 October 21, 2020

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 (Yonhap) -- The United States continues to face ongoing threats from rogue states such as North Korea, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Tuesday, highlighting the need to further enhance his country's alliances and defense capabilities.

"Since my confirmation as secretary of defense well over a year ago, my No. 1 priority has been implementing the national defense strategy (NDS). The NDS tells us that we are now in an era of great power competition, with our primary competitors being China and Russia," the U.S. defense chief said in a webinar hosted by a Washington-based think tank, the Atlantic Council.

"At the same time, we face ongoing threats from rogue states, such as North Korea and Iran. Finally, regrettably, we'll be dealing with violent extremist organizations for years to come," he added.

In the photo, taken Oct. 14, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (L) is seen speaking in the annual defense ministerial talks, known as the Security Consultative Meeting, held with his South Korean counterpart, Suh Wook, in Washington. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

It marks the first time in months that the U.S. defense chief has referred to North Korea as a rogue nation, a term that angers the communist state, nearly without fail.

Publicly, Esper last referred to Pyongyang as a rogue nation in August.

North Korea has maintained and continues to maintain a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests since November 2017, but its leader, Kim Jong-un, has said he no longer feel bound by such restrictions.

Esper's use of the term against North Korea comes after the communist state unveiled a new, longer-range intercontinental ballistic missile at its recent military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers' Party on Oct. 10.

His remarks also come amid stalled negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

U.S. President Donald Trump has held three meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, including two bilateral summits held June 2018 and February 2019 in Singapore and Hanoi, respectively.

Their talks, however, have stalled since their second summit ended without a deal.


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