Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & BBC News – 2013-03-27 00:37:32
North Korea: Military ‘On Alert’ to Attack Hawaii, US Mainland
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(March 26, 2013) — The latest in a line of tit-for-tat bellicosity across the Korean Peninsula, the North Korean Army Supreme Command has issued a statement saying that they are on “highest alert,” prepared to hit Hawaii and the US mainland.
The Pentagon responded by condemning North Korea, and accusing them of being a “threat to peace on the peninsula.” Of course over the past weeks the Pentagon has been flying nuclear bombers over the portion of South Korean airspace near the border, so both sides seem to be ratcheting up tensions.
Threats against Hawaii and the US West Coast are common for North Korea as well, though North Korea’s missile systems are mostly designed around attacking South Korea, and their ability to reliably hit Hawaii, let alone California, is in serious doubt.
The ever worsening rhetoric on both sides also has China concerned, and foreign policy analysts predict that the new Chinese government may take “concrete steps” to try to calm the situation. They will struggle to find a balance, however, between being tougher on North Korea without “exciting them” into a hostile response.
That’s a tall order. China is North Korea’s only real ally, and as their business interests grow worldwide, they are getting sick of treating North Korea with kid gloves as they get into these repeated rows with the US. At the same time, the whole problem is those rows destabilizing the region, and “handling” them has always ended up a de facto Chinese responsibility since they stand to lose the most from the destabilization on their border.
US flies B-52s over South Korea Amid North Rhetoric
(March 19, 2013) — The US is flying nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over South Korea, in what it says is a response to escalating North Korean rhetoric. US officials said the B-52 flights demonstrated “extended deterrence capabilities” amid rising tension on the peninsula. The aircraft, which can also carry conventional weapons, flew on 8 March, with another mission set for Tuesday.
Regional tension remains high after the North’s third nuclear test last month.
This is not the first time that B-52 bombers have been used as part of regular military drills between the US and South Korea. “We’re drawing attention to the fact that we have extended deterrence capabilities that we believe are important to demonstrate in the wake of recent North Korean rhetoric,” US Pentagon press secretary George Little said.
“As North Korea threatened to attack South Korea with nuclear weapons, the exercise involving B-52s is meaningful, as it shows US commitment to provide its nuclear umbrella on the Korean peninsula,” said Kim Min-seok, spokesman for South Korea’s Defence Ministry.
US Deputy Defence Secretary Ashton Carter affirmed this commitment on Monday during a visit to Seoul.
The US last week also announced plans to boost its own missile defences in the face of a growing threat from North Korea, a move over which both China and Russia have expressed concern.
A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said it would “intensify antagonism”, rather than improving regional stability. The United Nations imposed fresh sanctions against North Korea following its nuclear test on 12 February.
Pyongyang has responded with strong rhetoric to this and the US-South Korea joint military drills, which it bitterly opposes. It says it has scrapped the Korean War armistice and ended non-aggression pacts with Seoul. It has also cut off a hotline that connects the two countries.
The two Koreas remain technically at war because the 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice, not a treaty. South Korea says North Korea cannot unilaterally dissolve the armistice and has called on Pyongyang to tone down its language.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday called for North Korea to take a different approach. “North Korea is wasting resources for nuclear development while its people are living very difficult lives,” she said.
South Korea, US Agree on Plan for War With North
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(March 25, 2013) — South Korean and US officials have signed a plan for retaliation against a possible attack from North Korea, a deal which would oblige US military intervention even in the case of limited skirmishes along the disputed border.
“It will have the effect of preventing the North from daring to provoke us,” insisted South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok. The plan is being touted as a potential response to a threatened attack on South Korean islands along the maritime border.
Small incidents along the border are not unusual, and in late 2010 North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire, with both sides blaming the other for starting it. Earlier in that same year, South Korea’s government accused the north of sinking a ship, though it remains unclear to this day if they were actually involved.
Though the exact terms of today’s pact are not public yet, there is a risk that rather than preventing such incidents, the obligation for direct US military involvement could mean precipitous escalation when minor disputes break out, and might encourage South Korea to pick fights for diplomatic gain, counting on North Korea to fear a full-scale war enough to knuckle under quickly.
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