U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Wednesday that North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs pose a serious threat to nations around the world. North Korea unveiled its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) last weekend during a parade in Pyongyang.

While North Korea’s ICBM fascinated many Western analysts, Esper and South Korean officials were concerned that the country could use its new multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) and fast, short-range missiles to strike its targets in the South.

In a meeting with South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook at the Pentagon on Wednesday, Esper said North Korea’s ICBM could pose a global threat but reiterated the U.S.’s commitment to ensuring the security of the Republic of Korea.

“We agree that North Kora’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs remain a serious threat to the security and stability of the region and the world,” said Esper. “The United States remains committed to the security of the Republic of Korea,” he added.

Esper noted, however, that the U.S. and South Korea should come up with a more equitable way of sharing defense costs. Previously, Donald Trump also said Seoul should shoulder the lion’s share of the costs of deploying U.S. military forces in South Korea to be fair to American taxpayers.

Suh Hoon arrived in Washington this week to meet with his U.S. counterpart, Esper, and Pompeo. South Korea’s presidential Blue House said the meetings were previously unannounced.

The deployment of about 28,500 American troops in South Korea sends a message to China about the power and influence of the U.S. in Asia. While North Korea may also see the presence of American troops in South Korea as a warning to Pyongyang, analysts believe that Trump’s policy of engagement with North Korea could reduce the risk of war.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested that there was a reduced risk to the U.S. from North Kora due to the policy signed by Donald Trump with North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un.

Kim Jong-un, The leader of North Korea.
Image Reuters

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