Top U.S. General in South Korea Says North Korea Still a Military Threat

The top U.S. military commander in South Korea on Monday welcomed moves by North Korea to fulfill its denuclearization commitments, but said the country remains a military threat.

"We are all very hopeful that the North Koreans will live up to the agreement they have made," U.S. Gen. B.B. Bell told reporters at the National Press Club. referring to a February accord the communist country reached with five other countries, including the United States.

Bell, added, however, that the communist country retains the capability to attack Seoul with conventional artillery and special forces. "This is a very real threat which cannot be ignored," he said.

North Korea last week said it would move to carry out a promise made in an agreement in February with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. to shut down and seal its nuclear reactor and allowed inspectors from the U.N. nuclear watchdog to visit the facility.

Bell also called North Korea's recent missile tests a threat to South Korea.

Last week, North Korea fired three short-range surface-to-surface missiles that landed in its territorial waters, U.S. Defense Department officials said, the third time in a month that the North test-fired a short-range missile, following launches on May 25 and June 7.