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North Korea gets warning over nuclear threats from top Pentagon official, who also reassures Seoul

South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, right, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter shake hands while posing for photos before their talks at the Defense Ministry of South Korea in Seoul Monday, March 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Lee Jae-Won, Pool)
Lee Jae-won

Seoul A senior U.S. military official visiting Seoul is sending a message to both Koreas: warning Pyongyang over recent threats and reassuring South Korea that military backing won't be hurt by a U.S. budget debate.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter told reporters Monday that Pyongyang's threats would only deepen Washington's defense commitment to Seoul. He said that includes a "nuclear umbrella" security guarantee for Seoul, which doesn't have atomic weapons.

Ashton said deep U.S. budget cuts won't alter Pentagon efforts to make South Korean defense a priority.

Pyongyang is angry over U.S.-South Korean war games and U.N. sanctions meant to punish it for its third nuclear test. It has threatened nuclear attacks on Washington, though it isn't believed to have the weapons needed to do so.