Carter: U.S. looks to maintain peace in Asia-Pacific region

U.S. actions over the past few weeks demonstrate its commitment to maintaining peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and throughout the Asia-Pacific region, according to Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

Carter spoke on Monday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and said the U.S. is working with allies and friends throughout the world to employ an integrated response to North Korea's provocations. North Korea recently moved missiles to its east coast and threatened the U.S. with nuclear attacks.

"We're vigilantly monitoring the situation," Carter said. "We're in close contact with our South Korean civilian and military counterparts, as well as with the governments of Japan, China and Russia."

The U.S. continues to hold the position that North Korea should put a stop to its provocative threats immediately.

"North Korea's nuclear activities are in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and its international commitments," Carter said. "And we believe that North Korea should live up to these commitments and refrain from its provocative behavior."

In response to the threats, the U.S. planned to strengthen its missile defenses, including the near-term deployment of a terminal high-altitude area defense system. The U.S. also signed a new joint counter-provocation plan with South Korea to improve coordination and response.

"As (President Barack Obama) has made clear, there's a path open to North Korea to peace and economic opportunity," Carter said. "But to get on that path, North Korea must abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and abide by its international commitments."