Editor’s Note: In an interview with the Voice of America, Evans Revere comments on the escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, and explains that the U.S., South Korea, and Japan are taking North Korea’s threats seriously.
VOICE OF AMERICA: There is a threat from the North to shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which is jointly run by both countries. If that happens, what are the prospects for direct talks between the two Koreas?
EVANS REVERE: I think the prospects would be slim, to say the least. I think that would be an unfortunate step. It would be a signal that an already troubled relationship is going to get worse. Certainly there are some economic benefits that flow to the North from Kaesong – those would obviously stop, but there are also economic benefits that flow to South Korean manufacturers from that project and those would stop as well and I think that would be unfortunate for both sides.
VOICE OF AMERICA: Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, today condemned the North’s recent threats to launch strikes Sunday, saying Japan is on full alert.
REVERE: As is the United States, and as are ROK troops. It’s, I think, important to send very clear and very firm messages to the North Koreans that we’re taking their threats seriously. We don’t want to overreact, obviously, but we do want to make it clear to them that we – the United States, our South Korean ally, as well as Japan are prepared for a whole range of contingencies, and that’s why I think it’s important for President Park to have said the sort of things she is reported to have said today, because I think that does send a clear message to the North Koreans that a provocation will result in a response; therefore do not provoke.
At the end of the day, as we all know thorny national security issues don’t just involve the military; political-military considerations invariably bleed into them. If the senior military’s leadership views are going to be just constrained to military advice … who is thinking about issues from that broader perspective?