House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (WA-09) made the following statement at today's hearing on the Security Situation on the Korean Peninsula:
"I would like to welcome each of our witnesses and to thank them for appearing before us this morning. General Thurman, Doctor Lavoy, we value your assessments of the security situation on the Korean peninsula, and I look forward to your testimony.
"I also wish to commend those service men and women, whose daily efforts help to maintain the truce on the Korean peninsula. Their courage and commitment contribute greatly to stability and peaceful progress in the region.
"The United States will continue to offer security assurances through its forward military presence in East Asia and the Western Pacific. To that effect, the Department of Defense's new strategic guidance, which highlights a rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region, emphasizes: maintaining existing alliances, expanding cooperative international networks, and cultivating long-term strategic partnerships. Our deep, historic relationships with the Republic of Korea and other regional partners are fundamental to fulfilling each of these strategic priorities. Our relationship with South Korea is also instrumental to promoting mutual prosperity and to realizing the immense potential for growth in the region.
"Unfortunately, the North Korean regime continues to defy the international community and to present a serious threat to its neighbors as well as its own long-suffering populace. North Korea's recent pledge to suspend uranium enrichment and its nuclear weapons and long-range missile testing is welcome. However, North Korea's history of rescinding similar promises and resorting to bellicosity, brinksmanship, and open hostility requires that we proceed with caution.
"The President has made it clear that North Korea's nuclear weapons aspirations are unacceptable, as is North Korea's proven preference for provocation. The President has also plainly stated that the United States is firmly committed to peace and that it is prepared to improve relations with North Korea. I am hopeful that the new North Korean leadership will take this opportunity to pave a path to lasting peace on the peninsula.
"Maintaining our strong and enduring alliance with the Republic of Korea is a national security priority. Together, our two countries are committed to peacefully improving the security situation on the Korean peninsula. We must provide U.S. Forces Korea with the support it needs to uphold its part of this shared commitment.
"I look forward to continuing our dialogue on these and other important issues. Thank you, Mr. Chairman."