Let me start by paraphrasing a comment made by our U.S. commander in the Republic of Korea, and this may give you a little bit of insight on what I’m going to talk about. General Leon LaPorte—a great American of character and courage who sacrifices every day for our nation and for the people of the Republic of Korea—and I paraphrase what he said. He said North Korea represents a growing threat to the world through its proliferation of missiles and potential nuclear materials and technologies. North Korea’s large conventional force and special operational force directly threaten the Republic of Korea.
So let me put that as a baseline. A rhetorical question that I ask that you answer in your own mind’s eye, as I move forward, may lead you to the answer of what are the challenges we face, and that rhetorical question is, has North Korea shown a sincere attempt to address threats to peace within the international community? So in my humble view, the challenge remains the same, and I?ll give you the bottom line up front: the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in northeast Asia, a free and democratic Republic of Korea, our great alliance.
Now, let me talk a little bit about that. I will tell you as we go forward—and we have been moving forward and backward—it’s been very fitful with North Korea. All of us hope—and I know that hope is not a method when dealing with the North Koreans—that multilateral discussions will lead to the positive results that we desire. No one in their right mindset would ever think that conflict on the Korean Peninsula is a desirable outcome.