Elisabeth Cordray, a U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense, visited South Korea after North Korea's latest nuclear test to check on preparations for evacuating U.S. citizens in the event of war, it emerged Tuesday.
The visit has sparked speculation of an impending U.S. military attack against North Korea, but the U.S. Forces Korea claimed Cordray's visit was a "routine inspection."
Cordray visited the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, the logistic support arm of the Eighth Army, in Daegu on Sep. 13 and met its commander, John Sullivan, according to her Facebook page.
The command said Tuesday that Cordray "familiarized" herself with the process of evacuating U.S. citizens from South Korea in case of an emergency. She also discussed the readiness level of U.S. troops and was briefed on progress in relocating the main USFK military garrison in Yongsan to Pyeongtaek.
The command supports U.S. combat troops stationed here and also handles transportation and maintenance.
Diplomatic sources said Cordray's visit immediately after the North's nuclear test could suggest that Washington is reviewing a military option against Pyongyang. But one USFK source said, "Pentagon officials' visits to South Korea are routine, and Cordray also came here in May last year."
The source said interpreting her latest visit as a sign of an impending military strike would be "going too far."
Marines conduct a rappel training during a joint Korea-U.S. drill in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province on Tuesday. /Newsis