SEOUL — South Korea declined to comment Wednesday on revelations that the United States talked it down from launching a retaliatory airstrike on North Korea in 2010.
The claims were made in the newly published memoir of former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in which he also describes former South Korean president Roh Moo-Hyun as “probably a little bit crazy.”
The 2010 incident followed the North’s surprise shelling of a South Korean border island in November of that year.
The attack triggered what Gates labeled a “very dangerous crisis,” with the South Korean government of then-President Lee Myung-Bak initially insisting on a robust military response.
“South Korea’s original plans for retaliation were, we thought, disproportionately aggressive, involving both aircraft and artillery,” Gates wrote in his memoir.
“We were worried the exchanges could escalate dangerously,” he added.
There are currently more than 28,000 US troops stationed in South Korea and under the terms of their mutual defense pact, the United States would assume overall military command of their joint forces in the event of a full-scale conflict.
Because the 1950-53 Korean War concluded with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty, South and North Korea technically remain at war.
Full article: Gates Says US Prevented South Korea Airstrike on North (Defense News)