SEOUL, June 20 (UPI) -- The U.S.-South Korea alliance is prepared to meet any threat from North Korea, the commander of the U.S. Forces Korea told a forum in Seoul Monday.
"While the Kim (Jong Il) regime (in North Korea) has proven a willingness to escalate in order to obtain what it wants, I am convinced that the ROK-U.S. alliance is prepared," Gen. Walter Sharp said, Yonhap News Agency reported. ROK refers to the Republic of Korea, the official name of South Korea.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have escalated after two deadly attacks last year in which 50 South Koreans were killed.
Seoul has blamed the North for the attacks and has said the stalled six-nation talks on the North's denuclearization or any inter-Korean dialogue cannot start unless Pyongyang demonstrates its seriousness about such talks and takes responsibility for last year's attacks.
"Our counter provocation planning and combined exercises are stronger than ever. ... In the past year, we have worked hard to develop a hostile counter provocation plan that more adequately addresses the full spectrum of conflict," Sharp was quoted as saying.
"North Korea's unprovoked submarine attack against the Cheonan (South Korean ship), announcement of their highly enriched uranium program and brutal artillery barrage on Yeonpyeong Island over the past year were part of the North's spiraling threat of coercive strategy," he said.
Sharp is commander of 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.