White House Notes Few Military Changes To Back North Korea's Threats

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WASHINGTON The White House says that despite bellicose rhetoric from North Korea the Obama administration has not seen changes in the regime's military posture.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Mondays the U.S. has not detected any military mobilization or repositioning of forces from Pyongyang to back up the threats from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Pyongyang has reacted angrily to U.S.-South Korean military drills and a new round of U.N. and U.S. sanctions that followed North Korea's Feb. 12 underground nuclear test.

Carney called the U.S. response "prudent." He noted that such tough talk from North Korea is part of a familiar pattern.

Carney says the White House takes the threats "very seriously." But he says the rhetoric "is consistent with past behavior."

Whether or not the rhetoric is new, the U.S. has made a show of increasing its military hardware in South Korea.

The U.S. military command in South Korea announced Sunday its latest conspicuous display of firepower, sending F-22 stealth fighter jets to participate in annual U.S.-South Korean war games over the weekend.

While a Pentagon spokesman told CBS News on Monday morning that the F-22's presence over the peninsula were not a "recent addition to the exercise," Pyongyang calls the joint South Korean-U.S. war games a preparation for invasion.

The new South Korean president, who has a policy meant to re-engage Pyongyang with talks and aid, told her top military leaders Monday to set aside political considerations and respond strongly should North Korea attack.

Carney said Monday the increased military hardware served many functions.

"The actions we've taken are prudent, and they include, on missile defense to enhance both the homeland and allied security, and other actions like the B-2 and B-52 flights have been important steps to reassure our allies, demonstrate our resolve to the North, and reduce pressure on Seoul to take unilateral action," Carney said. "And we believe this has reduced the chance of miscalculation and provocation."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland echoed Carney's reasoning for the increased military presence at a Monday press briefing, and added that Secretary of State John Kerry will be traveling to the region next week, with North Korea's recent actions expected to be a prominent point of discussion.

"This will be very much front and center, and particularly in Beijing," Nuland said, highlighting the importance of China's relationship with the isolationist regime in North Korea.

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(CBS News) The new president of South Korea Park Geun-hye issued a warning Monday, reiterating to North Korea that there will be a strong and swift military response to any attack.

The United States deployed F-22 stealth fighter jets in South Korea over the weekend as part of an annual joint military drill. On Sunday, a top North Korean decision-making body issued a foreboding warning, saying that nuclear weapons are "the nation's life."

Former Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff and CBS News contributor Gen. Richard Myers said Monday that while North Korea has a "very large standing army" of more than 1 million men, their equipment is "pretty antiquated." The main defense concern about North Korea's military capabilities is that "they have lots of missiles," Myers said.

"They have hundreds of missiles that could be armed with biological or chemical weapons that could range to some of our allies there in Asia Pacific and some of our bases."

However, Myers explained that North Korea's escalating threats in recent weeks are likely mere "rhetoric and posturing," possibly designed to solidify Kim Jong-Un's new role as leader.

"There are lots of indications and warnings that are followed by our forces over there, that [we] could see if they're preparing for an attack because it would take a lot of preparation," Myers said. "My guess is since we haven't heard anything about that, we don't see them preparing for an attack."

Speaking to specific threats against the U.S. regarding long-range missile technology, Myers diminished North Korean bluster. "I don't think anybody gives them much credibility for having mature technology that could reach the United States," he said. "It's possible but I think unlikely ... [and] we would have plenty of warnings and lots of options."

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