AP To State Dept: Why Aren't You Taking NKorea Seriously?

AP To State Dept: Why Aren't You Taking NKorea Seriously?

MATT LEE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Korean Peninsula.
PATRICK VENTRELL, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESMAN, STATE DEPARTMENT: Yeah.
LEE: What do you make, if anything, of the North’s latest attempt at fear-mongering by telling people that they might want to leave South – or that they should leave the South? This is a little bit further than telling embassies that they can’t guarantee their safety after Wednesday. This is actually – seems to be an attempt to disrupt the South Korean economy.
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah. Thanks, Matt, for the question. Just to reiterate, and this is what we said back in our U.S. Embassy Seoul message back on April 4th, in our message we reiterated to U.S. citizens that there’s no specific information to suggest imminent threat to U.S. citizens or facilities in the Republic of Korea, so the U.S. Embassy has not changed its security posture. We have not recommended that U.S. citizens who reside in or plan to visit the Republic of Korea take special security precautions at this time. So North Korea’s reported “advice,” quote/unquote, to foreigners that they depart South Korea only serves to unnecessarily and provocatively escalate tensions.
LEE: So you don’t – the fact at a nuclear-armed country has told foreigners to get out of South Korea because of a coming war, you don’t regard as a specific threat?
MR. VENTRELL: Matt, well, you well know that they have a pattern of this provocative rhetoric –
LEE: Exactly. So you don’t think that it’s credible? You think that they’re just – it’s just bluster?
MR. VENTRELL: I mean, again, we were very –
LEE: Because –
MR. VENTRELL: Go ahead.
LEE: Because if – in another circumstance, if a country warned Americans or any other foreigners to get out, you might think that that was an actual threat, no?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, look, we’ve been very clear over these past couple of weeks as these sort of provocative statements have come out on a routine basis that, of course, we’re taking all appropriate measures and we always review our security precautions and we always – we’re very much capable of defending ourselves and our ally. But in terms this specific statement today, our analysis remains the same as it was last week, that we’re not discouraging U.S. citizens from traveling to South Korea or encouraging them to take any special travel precautions.
LEE: Okay. And you don’t think that that is – that might be irresponsible in light of the situation?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, if we thought otherwise, we’d have a different recommendation. But that’s our recommendation.
LEE: Your – okay, so your recommendation to American citizens in Seoul or anywhere in South Korea is nothing’s going on, don’t worry about it, there isn’t any threat, even though a country with nuclear weapons and a huge standing army right on the border about 40 minutes away from the capital is threatening war?
MR. VENTRELL: Look, we’re clear-eyed about the threat, but at this time we’re not recommending –
LEE: Okay. You just don’t buy it?
MR. VENTRELL: We’re not recommending any specific actions by American citizens at this time.

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