Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Matters of Highest Concern:North Korea,Russia and Afghanistan-SecDef Mattis

On his first visit to the UK as US Secretary of Defense,Jim Mattis gave a press conference alongside his British counterpart,Minister of Defence Sir Michael Fallon,on 31 March 2017 in London.Mr.Mattis responded to reporters' interest in North Korea,Russia and Afghanistan:
In the larger scheme of things,in the global situation,which is dynamic,you've highlighted-I think correctly-the North Korean threat.This is a growing threat.This is a threat of both rhetoric and capability.Right now,North Korea appears to be going in a very reckless manner in what its conduct is portraying for the future-and that has got to be stopped.*
Russia's violations of international law are now a matter of record.From what happened with Crimea to other aspects of their behaviour in mucking around in other people's elections and that sort of thing,so I think that the point I would like to make is that NATO stands united;the trans-Atlantic bond is united.We are going to maintain Article V-an attack on one is an attack on all-as absolute bedrock of the NATO Alliance,and we will,as you see with the European Reassurance Initiative,act accordingly if Russia chooses to be a strategic competitor.On the Intermediate Nuclear Forces issue-as to whether Russia has violated the INF treaty with the US-we are in consultation with our Allies and we are still formulating the way ahead.In fact,it'll be addressed,I think,very,very soon as a matter of highest level concern.
We have seen Russian activity in Afghanistan vis a vis the Taliban.I'm not willing to say at this point if that has been manifested into weapons and that sort of thing;but certainly what they're up to there,in light of their other activities,gives us concern.I would just say that we look forward to engaging with Russia on a political or diplomatic level;but right now,Russia is choosing to be a strategic competitor,and we're finding that we can only have very modest expectations at this point of areas that we can cooperate with Russia,contrary to how we were just ten years ago,five years ago.It's no longer a cooperative engagement with them.Right now,it's gotten to where we're diplomatically going to have to carve out some manoeuvring room here,assuming Russia can change its behaviour and act in accordance with international norms and international law.*
On the question about more forces for Afghanistan,the suggestions and recommendations coming into us from the NATO commander in the field,General John Nicholson,have been received and we are reviewing those right now.Our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs,General Joseph Dunford,is reviewing them.Obviously,in light of our close relations with the UK,we always engage with them on issues like this,simply because we consider them an equal partner.Their advice is always solicited.It doesn't come to the number of troops in the field,so we'll be working with our Allies on that issue.We have not made a recommendation yet.I've not yet put a recommendation forward to our President at this time.
With regard to Daesh being in Afghanistan,you're all aware that Daesh-aka ISIL-has every intention of striking externally from the region,and that immediate threat goes to Europe;and we're going to have to keep Daesh on their back foot,and that's where we're concentrating at this point,US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told journalists in London following his talks with UK Defence Minister Sir Michael Fallon.

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