US defence chief vows to deploy weaponry to Asia

US defence chief vows to deploy weaponry to Asia
US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter (L) shakes hands with his South Korean counterpart Han Min-koo during their meeting at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on April 10, 2015.

SEOUL - Defence Secretary Ashton Carter promised Friday that the US would deploy state of the art weaponry in Asia, including the latest stealth bombers and cyber warfare units, to counter threats posed by the likes of North Korea.

"Our newest and best things are being deployed to this part of the world," Carter said in Seoul - the second leg of a visit to the two key US military allies in the region, Japan and South Korea.

The Pentagon chief said his talks with South Korean Defence Minister Han Min Koo had included a "candid assessment" of the threat posed to the Korean peninsula - "and the US homeland" - by North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programme.

"As it demonstrated once again with the recent missile launches, North Korea is intent on continued provocation," Carter told reporters.

The North fired two surface-to-air missiles off its west coast on Tuesday, just as Carter arrived in Japan on the first leg of his tour.

Earlier, it had test fired a series of short range ballistic missiles to express its anger with annual South Korean-US military exercises which Pyongyang condemns as rehearsals for invasion.

The United States has close to 30,000 troops permanently stationed in South Korea and would assume operational command of both armed forces in the event of a conflict with the North.

The two Koreas remain technically at war because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty.

TAILOR-MADE WEAPONRY

Stressing that military deterrence and readiness were "at a premium" on the divided peninsula, Carter said the US was investing in "advanced capabilities .... tailored to this dynamic security environment."

Asked to expand, he cited new stealth bombers, F-35 stealth fighters and highly developed cyber warfare systems that could be rotationally deployed in the Asian theatre.

North Korea has an advanced cyber warfare capability which it has wielded in damaging hacking assaults on South Korean financial institutions.

The FBI has accused the North of being behind a devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures, the studio behind the Hollywood film "The Interview" - a comedy about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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