Alabama ties to North Korea during escalating tensions

ADDS TRANSLATION OF SIGN: Tens of thousands of North Koreans gathered for a rally at Kim Il Sung Square carrying placards and propaganda slogans as a show of support for their rejection of the United Nations' latest round of sanctions on Wednesday Aug. 9, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Sign says, "Protect our nation to the death" and "Hearts of 10 million people are burning." (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — For years, Dr. Renato Corbetta, who directs International Studies at UAB and who has a focus on international security, conflict, and conflict management, has been following the developments out of North Korea.  Corbetta said it’s something that’s concerned him since the early 1990’s, but that we’ve definitely seen things ramp up in the past few months.

“The unpredictability of North Korea is that you never know what’s going to come up next,” said Corbetta.  “Kim Jong Un is said to be even more unpredictable than his father, so you never know.”

Corbetta believes that Alabamians should be taking note of what happens with North Korea as well.  

“It’s important to Alabamians because we have a lot of citizens in the military who are possibly deployed to South Korea or who may be mobilized if there is a military confrontation with North Korea,” he explained. “And it’s important to Alabama because we do a lot of business with South Korea as well.”

Corbetta alluded to the Hyundai plant that you may have passed if you’ve traveled to the beach this summer.  

“It’s something that could affect us in a number of ways,” he said. “Economically, in social terms, in terms of family and friends.”

Alabama also has ties to the developments in North Korea thanks to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s role in Huntsville. While the agency is headquartered in Virginia, the bulk of their workforce is in Huntsville, Alabama.

There was a symposium at the Von Braun Center on Wednesday where Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves spoke to the packed crowd about recent missile defense tests. Since North Korea’s missile tests, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and soldiers from the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade out of Fort Bliss successfully completed missile defense tests using what’s known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

“These tests are not staged and they are not crafted for success,” explained Greaves. “They stress the systems and we learn from every single test.”

Greaves went on to tell the audience that he is confident in the missile defense system’s ability to defend the U.S. against the current threat.

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