Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

War on Korean Peninsula enters new phase

The war on the Korean peninsula can move from the standby mode that has been ongoing for half a century to real military actions. There are enough reasons for this to happen as both sides have amassed weapons, warned diplomats, conducted exercises, and tightened the international sanctions. Will there be a transition from the ubiquitous DPRK threats to combat action? And, if so, does North Korea need it?

The Americans have postponed the planned tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles "Minuteman III" until May. The Pentagon decided that test-firing that may provoke the DPRK authorities to inappropriate actions should be postponed. These tests were scheduled for next week. However, in light of the fact that Pyongyang has advised foreign embassies to evacuate from the Korean peninsula, the Americans had to postpone even the launch from their own Air Force Base in California.

The tests were in no way connected to the joint US-South Korean military exercise, but the U.S. Defense Department has chosen not to aggravate the situation with North Korea. Head of the Pentagon Charles Hagel personally ruled that the planned tests may well be a cause for misinterpretation by the official Pyongyang.  

A few hours earlier, North Korea's Foreign Ministry recommended foreign embassies to think about the safety of their employees, up to the evacuation of staff. They were given a few more days to leave the country, and after April 10 Pyongyang would provide no guarantees of security to foreign nationals.

In response to the joint military exercises of the southern neighbors and the Americans that concerned the DPRK leadership, after the said date, the North Koreans could launch a rocket with a stated range of about 3 thousand kilometers. This coincided with the reports from South Korea stating that their restless northern brothers have thrown another, second, ballistic missile to their eastern coast. It may be that this way they will mark a significant date - the 101th birthday of the founder of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Kim Il Sung, the late grandfather of the current head of the DPRK Kim Jong-un.

While the predecessor of the current leader of North Korea was more or less predictable, today no one in the world can accurately predict how the current young ruler would act, and whether he would limit his actions to not very large-scale clashes. Referring to a statement of the Ministry of Defense of Japan, the media reported that North Korea was ready to launch its "Musudan" missile. This mobile missile launcher is located in the northeastern part of North Korea. The Japanese Defense Ministry has learned about the fact that it has been moved from the latest satellite images. It is not ruled out that other missiles were also ready for a launch, but may not be visible behind the camouflage cover.

Speculation about Pyongyang launching a test flight of the rocket (3 to 4 thousand kilometers in range) emerged early this month. At the same time, Tokyo, in preparation for a possible military action on the part of Pyongyang, has placed two SAM "Patriot" units in front of the Ministry of Defense. Japanese workers are leaving the joint industrial zone in North Korea and Japan. A day earlier it was reported that North Korea has already fueled its rockets. The Foreign Ministry of Seoul has officially confirmed that North Korea has moved a rocket to its north-east coast, and was ready to launch it at any moment. It is believed that the DPRK can launch several missiles of various types if "Musudan" fails.

Seoul remains calm with regard to the latest nuclear provocation, as stated by representatives of the South Korean government. However, the country is completely ready to repel a real attack. So far, threatening their southern neighbors, the Pyongyang authorities at the same time threatened several million citizens of other countries now living in South Korea. According to various sources, currently approximately 4 million foreigners officially reside in the Republic of Korea. At this time no one is preparing to evacuate, including the Russians.

Representatives of the South Korean travel agencies, as well as other residents of the country, feel the crisis only from the reports of new North Korean intentions. South Korean authorities believe that Pyongyang's recommendations for tourists and visitors in Seoul to leave the Korean peninsula are a psychological trick that no one is falling for.

The European Community has officially refused to withdraw its diplomats from Pyongyang, despite the warning of the threat of a conflict with the authorities of the DPRK. The refusal was referred to in the report of the British Foreign Office. The message states that the EU officially refused to consider the situation on the Korean Peninsula in the way it is seen by North Korea. The EU focused on the fact that the DPRK must comply with the terms of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, including - under all circumstances - ensuring the safety of foreign diplomatic missions and EU citizens.

Although Seoul is staying calm, it admits that the probability of a missile launch, instead of a continuing political bluff, is very high. As for the position of Moscow, it coincides with the opinion of Washington and Brussels. Russian experts, commenting on the situation, believe that the continuation of threats is equal to suicide for North Korea. It is unlikely that a very young man, head of North Korea Kim Jong-un, who recently came to power, will choose such a political suicide.

According to Russian analysts, the situation can be used for solving the internal problems of North Korea as the authorities are trying to unite their people this way. This is often done through external threats, especially where there is nothing else left to counter the accumulated problems.

It is hard to say what North Korea can expect in the case of a military conflict with the developed countries. Perhaps the successful launch of the satellite to space orbit by the young leader of the communist state may seem insufficient for the country's prestige. Even more so that tightening of the UN sanctions (albeit relative) may be seen by someone in Pyongyang as offensive because a number one person in the international organization is a native of the neighboring country.

So far North Korea does not get tired of "delighting" international observers with a variety of traditional threats against Seoul and Washington. The countries that implicitly support North Korea are gently trying to persuade Pyongyang to limit their threats with verbal attacks that in over than 50 years have been nothing like the current ones in terms of scale.

The Russian military is quite critical about the DPRK's military readiness. According to many experts, all signs of real preparation for the actual combat are a commonplace demonstration of strength. No sane, no matter how odious, country leader would get involved in a real war with the developed countries.  

As for the South Korean authorities, so far Seoul has been urging its northern neighbor to lay down weapons and have peaceful relations. However, in the event of a conflict, according to South Korean President, Seoul does not rule out the possibility of pre-emptive strikes against the North.

Sergei Vasilenkov


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