South Korea — The top U.S. military commander in South Korea on Monday criticized last week's missile test launches by North Korea, saying the country remains a threat despite its recent moves toward dismantling its nuclear program.
Gen. B.B. Bell said he welcomed Pyongyang's efforts to live up to a February commitment to shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor. But he noted the communist country still retains the capability to attack Seoul with conventional artillery and special forces.
"This is a very real threat which cannot be ignored," he told reporters at the National Press Club in Seoul.
Last week, North Korea test-fired three surface-to-surface missiles that landed in the North's territorial waters, according to Defense Department officials. It was the third time in a month that North Korea has test-fired a short-range missile, following launches May 25 and June 7.
"What I find very disturbing is that the North continues to test advanced short-range missiles," Bell said.
"These are designed to be used on this peninsula," adding that they have enough range not only to threaten Seoul - near the border with North Korea - but other cities as well.