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US, South Korea vow to expand war games amid tensions in Korean Peninsula

Press TV – January 31, 2023

United States and South Korea have pledged to expand the level and scale of their joint military exercises and boost nuclear deterrence planning amid a major uptick in tensions with North Korea.

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin met with South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup on Tuesday in Seoul, more than two months after their annual talks in November last year in Washington.

He is also scheduled to hold talks with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol during his stay in Seoul before flying to the Philippines.

In a joint statement, the two officials said they had agreed to boost information sharing and joint planning between the two sides.

They also committed to boosting the “level and scale” of combined military exercises this year and to deploying more US aircraft carriers and bombers.

North Korea has repeatedly denounced the joint drills between Washington and Seoul as proof of their hostile intentions.

The Pentagon chief said the trip aimed at deepening cooperation with the key Asian ally and reaffirming the US extended deterrence commitment to South Korea as “ironclad” at a time of heightened tensions.

“That’s why the United States and the ROK (Republic of Korea) are taking clear, meaningful steps to modernize and strengthen our alliance,” Austin was quoted as saying by the South’s state-run Yonhap news agency.

“So our adversaries and competitors know that if they challenge one of us, they are challenging the US-ROK alliance as a whole,” he added.

Lee has said the two countries will hold a table-top nuclear drill in February under the theme of North Korea’s nuclear strikes, while Austin said the drills are in line with their talks to expand activities and extended deterrence mechanisms on the peninsula and in the region.

Military tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen sharply this year. The US has resumed massive land, naval, and aerial war games with South Korean and Japanese forces in the region while vowing to consider all available options to counter what they deem a threat posed by North Korea.

North Korea considers the US military drills with South Korea and Japan “provocative measures” that are designed to practice an invasion.

The country is reeling under harsh sanctions by the US and UN Security Council over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which have not prevented it from developing its military capabilities as a deterrent against hostile West-led moves.

North Korea maintains that it will not tolerate persisting US-led war games in the region, underlining that it will continue responding to joint military maneuvers of its adversaries by holding its own drills as well as developing all sorts of weaponry, including long-range missiles.

January 31, 2023 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

What is covered by the “pictures of the Russian train”?

By Konstantin Asmolov – New Eastern Outlook – 31.01.2023 

We recently wrote about the ways the United States’ allegations of North Korean munitions shipments to Russia had created a new standard of proof. However, it appears that the US side is not content with having hit rock bottom once again.

On January 20, 2023 National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby raised new allegations against the Wagner PMC and Russia, claiming that the US had presented its intelligence findings to the relevant expert group of the UN Security Council (Committee 1718, which is in charge of sanctions against the DPRK). Although this was the first time ever any “evidence” had been presented, it was unfortunately a very peculiar type of proof.

The world was shown “rare, declassified photographs of Russian rail cars traveling between Russia and North Korea in November” and what Kirby described as the original delivery of North Korean weapons to the Russian PMC. According to the US statement, the photos were of a five-car train that ran between the Khasan (Russian Federation) and Tumangan stations on November 18 and 19, 2022, and those cars contained ammunition for Wagner.

“We obviously condemn North Korea’s actions and call on North Korea to immediately stop these shipments to Wagner,” Kirby said at the start of the daily White House press briefing. He then stated that “while we estimate that the amount of material delivered to Wagner has not changed the dynamics of the fight in Ukraine, we anticipate that it will continue to receive North Korean weapons systems” and therefore “will not preclude imposing additional sanctions if deemed appropriate at the UN”. As an aside, it was noted that North Korea continues to circumvent sanctions with the help of Russia and China.

On January 23, State Department spokesman Ned Price also stated that the United States and South Korea regularly discuss how to counter threats from North Korea, including “the supply of weapons and other military equipment from North Korea to Wagner units for use in Ukraine”.

Not coincidentally, not only Russian but also Western experts who deal with North Korea professionally have noted this reference with some surprise. Even those who dislike the North reacted in the style of “maybe the US has other evidence that has not been shown to us, but this is just a hint.”

Asked by RIA Novosti if it could be said with certainty that the pictures show weapons being transported from the DPRK to Russia, NK News director Chad O’Carroll said the photos do not show what is called hard evidence that would confirm US claims. The photos DO NOT show weapons or grenades being loaded and only include an image of Russian rail cars in North Korea – which, he adds, Russian media have also written about. That White House officials, according to O’Carroll, “show some level of specificity by releasing satellite images of a certain date showing rail cars and cargo” only means that Washington is very confident in its intelligence, but “anyone would be happy to see more detailed evidence”.

Another US expert noted that the pictures provided by Kirby show covered rail cars in which containers of ammunition would not fit, especially since they are loaded on platforms and not in boxcars. He also pointed out that “the versions voiced by Washington keep changing. In September, they claimed that North Korea was supplying Russia with millions of artillery shells and missiles. They claimed Pyongyang was trying to make it appear that the supplies were going to the Middle East and Africa, but in fact they were going to Russia. Now that version is forgotten – there is a new one. Meanwhile, one million shells is 50,000 tons, which is several large ships.”

The claim that the data were sent to the committee that investigated the sanctions is also not identical to the fact that the experts who examined them agreed with the American version.

In this context, the author will try to explain to the audience what more reasonable evidence of this kind would look like, using pictures of the train: Here is a picture of what looks like a military factory, and of containers of ammunition being loaded into wagons; here is a traceable route (because it is not particularly difficult to trace their path through the consignor system) by which a train from North Korea went directly into the front line area where it was unloaded, whereupon the shell shortage ended in that section of the front line. Such things can still be used as evidence, although indeed some questions remain.

The second thing that came to the author’s mind was a quote from a Russian cartoon, “This picture is useful: it covers a hole in the wall,” and he draws attention to two events that paralleled Kirby’s statement.

The first event is that on January 19, 2023, the day before Kirby’s statement, the Pentagon asked United States Forces Korea (USFK) to provide some of its equipment in support of Ukraine, stressing that its security operations on the Korean Peninsula would not be “affected in any way” by this move. USFK spokesman Col. Isaac Taylor said, “The Department of Defense continues to provide military assistance from its reserves in support of Ukraine. US forces in Korea have been asked to support this effort by providing some of their equipment… This does not affect our operations or our ability to fulfill our ironclad commitment to protect our ally, the Republic of Korea. There should be no doubt that we are ready to fight tonight as well”.

Taylor did not specify, however, what equipment, or in what quantity, would be delivered for use in Ukraine. The ROK Department of Defense also declined to comment on the issue.

The New York Times had previously reported that the US Department of Defense had drawn on US artillery stockpiles in South Korea and Israel because of Ukraine’s urgent need for munitions assistance.

USDOD deputy spokeswoman Sabrina Singh clarified this information, pointing out that the withdrawal of munitions and military equipment from US depots in South Korea and other countries in support of Ukraine had no impact on US defense capabilities and had little to do with reducing domestic stockpiles. It has also come to light that the US is in talks with Korean military contractors to replenish empty depots.

To the author, this information indicates two important things.

First, despite the loud declarations about the danger of the North Korean threat and the need to give money to counter it, it appears that the US does not in fact particularly believe that the North will attack the South in the relatively near future. Otherwise, they would not have moved an arsenal to Ukraine from a place where these munitions could be urgently needed.

Second, the fact that ammunition is being sent from Korea means that the arsenal of democracy is not bottomless and is slowly running out. Weapons and ammunition even need to be withdrawn from long-term storage. As we noted in one of our articles, it appears that their talk of Moscow’s “ammunition shortage” is masking their own ammunition scarcity, which is not so much affecting Russia as it is Ukraine and its allies.

Combined with a number of other news items, this suggests that the Europeans are growing weary of the conflict and increasingly reluctant to hand over new arms tranches to Kiev. This is a rather important sign, suggesting that in a certain situation Kiev will come to understand that for all the need to “defend democracy,” it has to do it alone.

The second event is a statement by Russian Foreign Intelligence that Ukrainian authorities are placing munitions from the West in nuclear power plants because they know that Moscow will not dare to bomb them. Foreign Intelligence Director Sergei Naryshkin said, “The Foreign Intelligence Service receives reliable information that Ukrainian forces are storing weapons and ammunition supplied by the West on the premises of nuclear power plants. This applies to the most expensive and scarce missiles for Haymar’s multiple rocket launchers and foreign air defense systems, as well as large-caliber artillery ammunition the AFU lacks most. Just in the last week of December 2022, several railroad cars with lethal cargo were delivered from abroad to the Rovno NPP via the Rafalovka station.”

Naryshkin’s statement does not contain exhaustive evidence, but the reasoning is somewhat more detailed than Kirby’s and contains some specifics. Apparently, it is precise data on where and how Ukrainian ammunition stocks move.

Mykhailo Podolyak, advisor to the head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, then stated on social networks that “Ukraine has never stored weapons on the territory of the nuclear power plant” and noted that Ukraine is “always open” to inspection bodies, especially the IAEA.

In this context, the author once again reminds us that it is not unusual in war to attribute to the enemy acts committed by one’s own side in order to divert attention from oneself. So if you want to make the next lofty claims of DPRK intrigue, look at the holes in the wall this picture covers.

Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, is a leading research fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of China and Modern Asia, the Russian Academy of Sciences.

January 31, 2023 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Fake news about North Korea arming the Wagner PMC as an illustration of new “evidence” trends

By Konstantin Asmolov – New Eastern Outlook – 04.01.2023

It would seem that not long ago we touched on the intricate situation regarding rumors of North Korean or South Korean arms being supplied to the region of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, noting that there was no real evidence of either. Unfortunately, the situation is not evolving for the better and even those in the US establishment, who previously had refrained from making direct and unsubstantiated accusations, have begun to do so.

On December 22, 2022, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the DPRK had completed its initial arms delivery to Russia back in November, including infantry rockets and missiles: “We can confirm that North Korea has completed an initial arms delivery to Wagner, which paid for that equipment”. And while Washington does believe “that the amount of material delivered to Wagner will not change battlefield dynamics in Ukraine,” it is still “certainly concerned that North Korea is planning to deliver more military equipment.”

Kirby’s further statements reflected that, for him, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is taking place on some other globe. It turned out that Russian military officials report to the command of this PMC, which has 50,000 fighters. “It’s pretty apparent to us that Wagner is emerging as a rival power center to the Russian military and other Russian ministries”.  The Russian reader can only raise a restrained smile, which also applies to the idea that the PMC has not only heavy equipment, but also missiles and heavy artillery in its arsenal.

Nevertheless, Kirby said the US, along with its allies and partners, would raise the issue in the UN Security Council, as the North’s arms deliveries were a clear violation of sanctions resolutions and he promised new sanctions against the Wagner group. US Permanent Representative to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield also said that the US “intends to raise the DPRK’s and Russia’s violations of UN Security Council resolutions in future meetings of the Security Council and will share information of this violation with the Council’s 1718 Sanctions Committee.”

The ROK and Canadian foreign ministries joined in the condemnation. Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly stressed that the actions of Wagner and Pyongyang “clearly violate international law and United Nations Security Council resolutions.” South Korea’s foreign ministry also condemned the arms trade between North Korea and the PMC, saying it was detrimental to peace and stability in the international community in direct violation of the resolutions.

More interestingly, Stéphane Dujarric, the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, told a briefing that the UN had no information on possible arms deliveries from the DPRK to the Wagner PMC.  From the author’s point of view, this is a hint…

Equally interesting is that Kirby’s information was published almost exactly the same way a little earlier by the British media. Reuters quoted a senior US administration official as saying that the ammunition had been bought from the DPRK last month and delivered to Russia: allegedly the volume of shipments is not large enough to seriously affect military operations, but the US fears that this channel will continue to operate.

A little earlier, the Japanese newspaper Tokyo Shinbun had reported that similar missiles were being supplied via the Hasan-Rajin railway.

And all this could not but prompt a comment from the DPRK Foreign Ministry, which on December 22 dismissed the manipulative report by the Japanese media as a completely clumsy and groundless PR stunt. The rest of the statement should be quoted as fully as possible:

“The DPRK remains unchanged in its principled stand on the issue of “arms transaction” between the DPRK and Russia which has never happened.

The international community will have to focus on the US criminal acts of bringing bloodshed and destruction to Ukraine by providing it with various kinds of lethal weapons and equipment on a large scale, rather than lending an ear to the groundless theory of “arms transaction” between the DPRK and Russia cooked up by some dishonest forces for different purposes.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to say that the Russian people are the bravest people with the will and ability to defend the security and territorial integrity of their country without any others’ military support”.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the Wagner PMC, also dismissed the allegation of North Korean supplies as “gossip and speculation”, and the author partly agrees with him: there is still no regular railway connection between North Korea and Russia. All the more so since the movement of trains across the border is monitored by US military satellites, among others.

The author also draws attention to the fact that the PMC has far less capacity to procure this type of weapons than the state does, because it would require additional time. Finally, if the PMC had received these weapons back in November, they would have already been used on the battlefields, which would have left an information trail.

This looks like another fake about North Korean shells, but for the author it is an opportunity to talk about two additional things.

First, that accusations are very often based on the method of projection or, as the saying goes, the tongue ever turns to the aching tooth. And in this context, it is worth talking about a series of US pieces in the Western media which suggest that the “arsenal of democracy is depleting” and it is not Russia, but the “free world” which is having problems in supplying arms.

Second, although this version was first published by a British news agency and then voiced by Kirby himself, no evidence was produced. Meanwhile, the author reiterates a very important point: if you accuse your opponent and you have hard, irrefutable facts that incriminate them in some way, you can safely put them out there – without fear that some independent expert will discover that it was a poorly concocted fake. When someone says “we have secret evidence, but we won’t show it to you because it is a military secret”, this approach has been considered rotten since the Dreyfus affair.

The accusations concerning Moscow’s use of Iranian drones include at least debris that is structurally similar to Iranian designs. There is nothing in this case, and the Wagner PMC seems to be attacked because it is today the most demonized armed formation having anything to do with Russia. Moreover, it also operates in the Middle East and Africa, which might have added credibility to the US claims, if there had been any specifics.

The use of accusations, however, which are not backed up by any semblance of credible evidence, did not begin with North Korean shells. One may recall the high-profile doping case in which the Russian side somehow allegedly tampered with urine samples in containers that were not supposed to be opened as per design. One may recall the poisonings of the Skripals or Kim Jong-nam when, in response to a direct question as to how exactly on the technical side the special operation had been carried out, there was no sane answer.

Rather than going into detail and sorting out the extent to which certain actions are technically possible, the analysis is substituted by notions of how capable we think “They” are of doing It. And if They could do it, then They did it, no matter how.

That said, such unsubstantiated information becomes a pretext for imposing sanctions of any level of severity – and this is an important criterion of a post-globalization world in which there is no longer any room for normal investigations and evidence. And this is a worrying sign, because now it is possible to use a fantastic accusation as a pretext for sanctions and if it is said from a high rostrum, the status of the one who said it is confirmation in itself: “How can we doubt the existence of Marquis of Carabas if the talking cat claims it?”

Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, leading research fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of China and Modern Asia, the Russian Academy of Sciences.

January 4, 2023 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 2 Comments

Will Korea send its shells to Ukraine, and more importantly, which Korea?

By Konstantin Asmolov – New Eastern Outlook – 23.12.2022

Over the past few days, the author has come across several fake news reports on Korean arms supplies to Ukraine. Both from the North and the South.

On the one hand, there is ongoing speculation in the West that the DPRK is allegedly supplying or intends to supply Russia with munitions for use in Ukraine, although such speculation is only true if the DPRK has secretly already built a teleportation machine. Well, or this is a case of “bold assumptions.”

However, Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder reiterated on November 15 that the United States is working with its allies and partners to monitor North Korea’s supply of artillery shells to Russia. The general declined to comment on whether the US had tried to prevent this.

On November 24, during an exclusive interview with the Yonhap News Agency, First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Oleksandr Kornienko said that military cooperation between North Korea and Russia cannot be ruled out.

In a webinar hosted by the Washington-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies on December 2, 2022, Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Eliot Kahn not only claimed that Moscow was doing little to enforce Security Council resolutions on North Korea, but specifically noted that Russia allegedly continues to allow numerous North Korean workers to earn income in its jurisdiction in defiance of the UN Security Council resolution and is in the process of acquiring prohibited munitions from the North to support the invasion of Ukraine. As always, no evidence was presented.

In addition to fake news about shells, Western propaganda floods the media with overwhelming amounts of all kinds of disinformation. First, it is “information” about the alleged recruitment of North Korean workers: in the summer and fall, the South Korean Daily NK reported several times that the DPRK was actively recruiting more and more workers to send to eastern Ukraine.

Another fake story was launched by Radio Free Asia, which, citing unnamed sources in North Korea, claimed that three Pyongyang factories were sewing uniforms for the Russian military engaged in the special military operation in Ukraine using Russian fabric. “Journalists” even had the audacity to send a comment to the Russian Embassy, after which, on November 12, the diplomatic mission’s social media page advised the journalist to choose a career as a science fiction writer.

On December 7, Spokesperson for the US Department of State Ned Price again told that Russia continues to seek weapons from North Korea and Iran for use in its war against Ukraine. And again – with no evidence. Against this backdrop, the National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby seems a paragon of honesty: “We know that the Russians continue to express interest in obtaining North Korean artillery…. (but) I don’t believe we can say today that we’ve seen definite indications that that transaction has been consummated.”

However, there is much more interest in the information from the other side. It tells the story that South rather than North Korean weapons may appear in the conflict zone.

In September 2022, the Czech publication iDNES claimed that the US was preparing a new scheme to supply Ukraine with weapons: allegedly, a certain Czech arms company would soon receive for transfer to Ukraine South Korean Shingung missile systems (KP-SAM) manufactured by LIG Nex1, designed to counter Russian drones and attack aircraft. The $2.9 billion deal is paid for from the US budget, but has yet to be implemented due to the South Korean government’s official policy of non-interference.  On October 2, 2022, the ROK media also wrote about this, although claiming that it is not true: the Czech Republic allegedly has South Korean weapons, but acquired a long time ago, the US started to re-buy them to send them from the Czech Republic to Ukraine already in its own name.

In this context, speaking at a plenary session of the Valdai international discussion club on October 27, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the decision to supply arms and ammunition to Ukraine “will destroy our relations”. And this can refer to both direct and indirect supplies, when South Korean weapons are sent via third countries or go as replacements for those supplied to Ukraine. Vladimir Putin said that Russia was aware of the Republic of Korea’s plans to supply arms and ammunition to Ukraine, referring to indirect supplies via Poland.

The next day, on October 28, ROK President Yoon Suk-yeol reiterated that the country had never provided lethal weapons to Ukraine; although aid is a matter of “South Korean sovereignty,” Seoul tries to maintain peaceful and good relations with all countries, including Russia.

However, on November 11, the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed US officials, reported that the US was planning to purchase 100,000 155mm artillery shells from the ROK for subsequent transfer to Ukraine, while previously the US military contingent in South Korea (USFK) had already handed over some of its ammunition in the ROK to Kiev (https://newsis.com/view/?id=NISX20221111_0002082163).

On the same day, the ROK Ministry of Defense confirmed that Seoul and Washington were discussing supplies of shells to make up for shortages in US arsenals, and the issue was discussed during talks between the defense ministers of the two countries in early November. But the talks are based on the assumption that the ammunition will be used by the US Army.

The latest fake story, that the US is planning to buy 100,000 shells for 155mm artillery pieces from the ROK for supply to Ukraine, was reported by CNN in late November, citing an unnamed Pentagon official. The CNN news comes amid reports that the US is running out of weapons to send to Kiev, and one of the problems is the 155mm artillery ammunition currently being used on the battlefields in Ukraine. As the ROK media wrote, compared to the US, South Korea’s weapons stockpile is quite large, given that South and North Korea are technically still at war, which helps South Korean manufacturers to continue producing ammunition. In addition, Yoon Suk-yeol sees arms exports as one way out of the emerging economic crisis. He said the ROK will aim to become the world’s fourth largest arms exporter by 2027, taking at least 5% of the industry market.

Commenting on the announcement, Col. Moon Hong-sik of the ROK Ministry of Defense reiterated on November 28 that the US is the end user of South Korean-made artillery shells. Similar reports are citing unnamed officials, but in this case more precise information is needed.

Thus, South Korea does not deny supplying weapons to the US or other countries, while a number of the author’s local respondents, following the South Korean President, emphasize that there will be no direct supplies to Ukraine, the US is the end user, and the deal with Poland even provides for a ban on transferring these weapons to Ukraine.

Of course, the author does not know whether the contract between Poland and the ROK restricts the supply or transfer of arms to third parties. But the whole situation does not bode well.

Although the ROK has been placed on Russia’s list of unfriendly countries, it remains the friendliest of the unfriendly. Without wishing to zero out economic cooperation, Seoul says it is “together with the international community” on the Ukrainian issue, but is not particularly keen to jump ahead. Moreover, some South Korean companies are not only reluctant to leave the Russian market, but are buying up the property of those firms that have actually left.

Such defiance is certainly not to the liking of Washington, which would like relations between Moscow and Seoul to be as messy as those with other US allies. There is a sense that the US is deliberately pushing the ROK and Russia towards a bigger rift, and the fake about “arms deal” in the US media, citing secret sources and without confirmation, was intended to drive an additional wedge into relations between Seoul and Moscow.

Moreover, knowing Moscow’s concerns about the possibility of South Korean arms supplies to Ukraine, Washington is in a position to stage a provocation, realizing that Moscow might be furious and not particularly concerned about whether Seoul knew where the US weapons were going or whether it was “set up.” After all, such a move would be perceived by Moscow as crossing red lines and would be a reason for retaliation.

The possibility of this, incidentally, is also recognized by South Korean experts. On November 11, Jeh Sung-hoon, head of the Russian Studies Department at the University of Foreign Studies, told RIA Novosti that Washington is seeking artillery supplies from the ROK not for military assistance to Ukraine but to chill relations between Seoul and Moscow and make South Korea even more deeply involved in the anti-Russian front.

Park Byung-hwan, a former Consul Ambassador at the South Korean Embassy in Moscow and now director of the South Korean Institute for Eurasian Strategic Studies, also told RIA Novosti that in the current circumstances there is a possibility of “hidden” supplies of South Korean arms to Ukraine, unless there are direct instructions in the contract from Seoul not to send weapons there.

Shin Jong-woo, a senior researcher at the Korea Defense and Security Forum, believes that “if the US purchases the artillery shells from us based on an agreement that the US will be the end user, but it changes its mind later in order to transfer them to Ukraine, we cannot take issue with the decision after selling them.” It is absurd to be interested in who the end user will be as “… exporting countries have few options even if end users do something illegal with their exports.”

On the contrary, Victor Cha, a well-known hawk, who is in charge of Korean affairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, writes directly that “the Yoon government should consider arming Ukraine in earnest. Russia has already sanctioned South Korea for joining multilateral sanctions against it, and now, it is already accusing Seoul of doing so. Thus, the Yoon government should go ahead and provide such support to the besieged country as requested by President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in his speech to the South Korean National Assembly in April 2022.”

Thus so far, despite the media fuss, none of the fakes about Korean weapons in Ukraine has been confirmed with regard to either the North or the South. Here’s hoping that such propaganda will never become a reality.

Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, leading research fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of China and Modern Asia, the Russian Academy of Sciences.

December 23, 2022 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

South Korea and US to increase number of joint military drills

RT | December 23, 2022

The South Korean and US militaries will hold some 20 joint military drills in the first half of next year, Seoul announced on Wednesday, amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The announcement by South Korea’s Defense Ministry followed a biannual meeting between the country’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup.

The decision was made “to expand the scale and types of combined field drills,” the ministry said in a statement. During those war games, the sides will focus on “crafting of realistic training scenarios in light of advancing North Korean nuclear and missile threats,” it added.

Seoul intends to deal with the nuclear threat from Pyongyang based on Washington’s commitment to mobilizing all its military capabilities, including nuclear arms, to defend its ally, Lee said, according to the statement.

As for the possibility of a conflict involving conventional arms, the minister insisted that the South Korean military must “ensure that we can respond sternly and perfectly to any North Korean provocations” and be able to achieve “definite win in any combat.”

On Thursday, Seoul revealed that South Korea and the US were considering staging their first large-scale joint live-fire demonstration in six years in 2023.

The exercises could be one of the ways to mark the next year’s 70th anniversary of the launch of military cooperation between South Korea and the US, and also “showcase our military’s presence and the alliance’s overwhelming deterrence capabilities against North Korea,” Defense Ministry spokesman Jeon Ha-gyu noted.

North Korea has repeatedly condemned military exercises between the South and the US, calling them a threat to its national security and preparations for an attack.

Last month, Pyongyang blasted a major air exercise between its arch-rivals as a “war drill for aggression mainly aimed at striking the strategic targets of North Korea.” According to the country’s Foreign Ministry, the North was eager to defend its sovereignty and could come up with “more powerful follow-up measures” if the US “continuously persists in the grave military provocations.”

The war games were scaled back significantly under previous South Korean President Moon Jae-in, as part of his efforts to seek reconciliation with Pyongyang. However, his successor Yoon Suk Yeol, who came to power in May, has declared a “peace through strength” policy, which among other things is based on further boosting military ties with the US.

Pyongyang has fired an unprecedented number of missiles this year, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), said to be able to strike the US mainland. According to CNN’s estimates, there have been at least 35 tests during the period.

Officials in Seoul and Washington have claimed that North Korea has also completed preparations for its first nuclear test since 2017.

December 23, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

North Korea rejects ‘absurd’ US claim

RT | December 23, 2022

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on Friday dismissed reports that it had supplied Russia with weapons as “the most absurd red herring.” The White House and the US envoy to the UN claimed to have “confirmed” the transfer, which allegedly took place last month.

A spokesman for the North Korean foreign ministry said the “false report that the DPRK offered munitions to Russia is the most absurd red herring, which is not worth any comment or interpretation,” according to the state news agency KCNA. “The DPRK remains unchanged in its principled stand on the issue of ‘arms transaction’ between the DPRK and Russia which has never happened.”

He added that the international community should “focus on the US criminal acts of bringing bloodshed and destruction to Ukraine by providing it with various kinds of lethal weapons and equipment on a large scale,” instead of the “groundless theory” that Pyongyang was selling weapons to Russia, which he said was “cooked up by some dishonest forces for different purposes.”

On Thursday, the White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby claimed that North Korea had delivered “infantry rockets and missiles to Russia for use by Wagner” in November. Kirby also claimed the private military company has 50,000 troops in Ukraine and is “emerging as a rival power center to the Russian military and Russian ministries.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, also said Washington had “confirmed” the transaction and that she will bring it up at an upcoming Security Council meeting. Asked about it at a press conference on Thursday, the UN secretary-general’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said he had “not seen that statement.”

The questions of North Korean arms exports need to be addressed through the UN sanctions regime, Dujarric said, adding, “I have no further information.”

Iran has likewise rejected US and Ukrainian claims that it sold missiles and drones to Russia, warning Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky on Thursday that its “strategic patience will not be unlimited towards unfounded accusations.”

Meanwhile, the US Senate has approved another $45 billion in aid for Kiev in 2023, a day after President Joe Biden announced $1.85 billion worth of weapons. The Pentagon has publicly disclosed it had sent over $20 billion in military aid to Ukraine just this year, though Biden insists this does not make the US or its allies a party to the conflict with Russia.

December 22, 2022 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 2 Comments

South Korea asks for Russia and China’s help

South Korea’s nuclear envoy Kim Gunn
RT | November 21, 2022

South Korea has turned to Russia and China for help in shutting down rival North Korea’s missile testing program, arguing that Pyongyang is threatening peace and stability across Northeast Asia and beyond.

Nuclear envoy Kim Gunn held a telephone call on Monday morning with the Russian and Chinese ambassadors to Seoul, Andrey Kulik and Xing Haiming, asking for “active cooperation” in persuading Pyongyang to refrain from “further provocations” and return to dialogue, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Kim argued that North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday violated UN Security Council resolutions and marked yet another dangerous saber-rattling incident from President Kim Jong-un’s regime.

Seoul made its appeal for help as its envoys prepared to lobby the UN Security Council for action at an emergency meeting on Monday in response to North Korea’s latest ICBM test. The South Korean diplomat “emphasized the need for the international community, including the United States, to unite and promptly take decisive countermeasures,” the ministry said.

As permanent members of the Security Council, Russia and China have the power to veto any resolutions that would punish North Korea for its strategic weapons tests. Russia has called in the past for de-escalation on the Korean Peninsula by both sides, meaning Pyongyang would halt nuclear-related tests and the US and South Korea would suspend their joint military exercises in the region. US officials have called that idea “insulting.”

Kulik warned last year that only diplomacy would bring peace to the peninsula. “We are convinced that step-by-step activities based on the principles of equality and a gradual and synchronized approach will make it possible to ensure the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and lay the foundation for a solid system of peace and security here,” the ambassador told TASS in an interview last December.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres issued a statement on Friday condemning North Korea for its latest ICBM launch. North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui responded on Monday by calling Guterres a “puppet of the US.” She defended North Korea’s weapons tests as a “legitimate and just exercise of the right to self-defense,” saying they came in response to “provocative nuclear war rehearsals” by the US and its allies.

November 21, 2022 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 2 Comments

The US and the ROK will now consider deterring North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons

By Konstantin Asmolov – New Eastern Outlook 20.11.2022

From reading the previous article, one could get the impression that, against the background of North Korea’s unprecedented missile activity and the likelihood of a seventh nuclear test by Pyongyang, there are growing calls in the US for an end to Pyongyang through sanctions, a pre-emptive strike or the deployment of nuclear weapons on the peninsula.  However, the author points to a different trend: voices calling for recognition of the DPRK’s nuclear power status and a review of the policy of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Here are some examples.

On October 26, 2022, ROK Minister of Defense Lee Jong-sup said the focus of efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue should shift from deterring their development to deterring the use of nuclear weapons. “We have put our focus on trying to prevent North Korea from conducting additional nuclear tests and advancing its nuclear capabilities, but it’s time to change our strategy.” Now “the priority should be on deterring the use of nuclear weapons,” giving the North Koreans an understanding that if the DPRK attempts to use nuclear weapons, it will result in the termination of the North Korean regime.

In a similar vein, ruling party chief Chung Jin-suk said, “We have entered a completely new phase in North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. We need to reexamine our entire response system to the North’s nuclear threats… We should also have an overpowering defense system so local provocations do not evolve into a full scale war.” Conservative MP Han Ki-ho, who heads the DPRK Threat Response Committee, also noted that “denuclearization policies we have pushed for until now have failed.”

Although South Korean conservatives speak not of negotiation but of a forceful response to force, such deterrence is also a form of control. But far more important is the opinion of US officials. At the 2022 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington, US Deputy Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Bonnie Jenkins said that if Pyongyang is willing to return to engagement, an arms control treaty could eventually be worked on. Jenkins added that the US and North Korea may have different interpretations of “arms control” and “nuclear disarmament,” which have complicated related discussions and proved to be serious obstacles during the Trump era engagement, but “building a foundation by defining a goal” would be the starting point of any potential negotiations, which she said would take time.

It should be noted that this is not the last US government official to speak out, but the basic official position is still the same. In response to a question about Jenkins’ remarks on October 31, US Department of State Spokesman Ned Price said that “there has been no change to US policy. Our DPRK policy remains the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” The United States does not and will not recognize North Korea as a nuclear state: “That is not our policy. I do not foresee that ever becoming a policy”.

The US and South Korean experts and retirees are more outspoken. As former Minister of Unification under the Moon Jae-in administration Jong Se-hyun told The Korea Times, “after the midterm elections, the US will have no options but to start arms control talks with North Korea based on the North’s commitment to the non-proliferation of its nuclear weapons”.

As former US special envoy for talks with North Korea Joseph DeTrani points out, North Korea has no intention of getting rid of its nuclear weapons in exchange for economic incentives or normalization of diplomatic relations, so offering Pyongyang such “carrots” in exchange for disarmament will not work.  According to DeTrani, North Korea wants to be accepted as a nuclear state like Pakistan, while stressing that its nuclear program is for deterrence and will not be used for offensive purposes. The US, on the other hand, has openly said that it does not accept the DPRK as a nuclear state, as this would lead to a nuclear arms race in the region and create opportunities for nuclear proliferation, fissile material falling into the hands of a rogue state or terrorist groups.

Robert Kelly, a professor of political science at Pusan National University, also believes that persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear program will not be easy, while Seoul has no options. The only thing that can be achieved is arms control: “we might get some constraints, maybe we’ll get some inspectors to get the North Koreans to cap it at like 200 strategic missiles and warheads or something like that, but they’re never going to go to zero.”

Soo Kim, a policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, thinks the US, like South Korea, is running out of options “because there just aren’t that many creative ideas to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table, and to actually convince Kim Jong-un to give up some aspect of his nuclear program.”

Kim Jong-dae, a former South Korean defense official and visiting professor at Yonsei University, also thinks that complete denuclearization of the North is something that cannot be achieved at all and developing discussions with North Korea in terms of arms control is a very realistic idea.

A recent Bloomberg article states that the policy of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, pursued in recent decades, has failed. The US and its allies must accept the DPRK’s status as a nuclear power and learn to operate in the new environment. Criticism has also been levelled at anti-North Korean sanctions, which have had no effect other than to create food shortages for millions of North Koreans.

Earlier, Jeffrey Lewis, an expert in nuclear non-proliferation at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, spoke of the need to recognize North Korea’s nuclear status in the interest of easing tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Journalist Donald Kirk, who specializes in East Asia, also wrote that hopes of talks with Kim Jong-un on the nuclear issue were a fantasy. He called for a focus on strengthening defense capabilities, describing the North’s adoption of a nuclear doctrine at the legislative level as a real threat.

Statements of this kind are based not only on an assessment of the DPRK’s military capabilities, but also on public opinion: the proportion of those who consider the DPRK’s threat serious is declining in the US, while the number of supporters of a constructive solution is rising.

In August-September 2022, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs conducted an opinion poll on how important certain foreign policy issues seem to the average American. It was found that only 52% of Americans believe that North Korea’s nuclear program poses a “serious threat” to the United States (compared to 75% in 2017 and 59% in 2021). There is a split on “what should be done to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons,” with 46% of respondents believing that the US should establish formal diplomatic relations with the DPRK, while 31% are of the opinion that the US should use military force under favorable conditions.

Commenting on the poll results, experts from the Chicago Council noted that the DPRK issue is currently overshadowed in American consciousness by events in Ukraine, as well as economic problems. As a result, North Korean issues have been put on the backburner in Biden’s policy.

On September 22, the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University released the results of a poll showing that 92.5% of respondents are convinced that North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons, which is the highest score ever.  55.5% were in favor of Seoul possessing its own nuclear weapons, the highest score on record as well. Compared to last year, there was a 10% increase.

It should be noted that the “arms control treaty” is what Pyongyang has demanded in past years. However, negotiating arms control is not an easy process for the US, as it would mean recognizing the North as a nuclear state and thus fundamentally changing US policy towards the DPRK, because Washington has always maintained that North Korea’s nuclear program is illegal and subject to United Nations sanctions.

Nevertheless, Russian experts, such as Aleksandr Zhebin, have repeatedly stressed that the West should accept reality and move on from talks on denuclearization to talks on arms control, given that the DPRK positions itself as a responsible state that adheres to the doctrine of nuclear non-proliferation. All attempts to find evidence of nuclear smuggling and/or technology (which was actively sought for the sake of the new stranglehold) were unsuccessful.

Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, is a leading research fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of China and Modern Asia, the Russian Academy of Sciences.

November 20, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Russia brands US weapons claim ‘a lie’

RT | November 9, 2022

US accusations that North Korea was supplying Russia with ammunition are lies, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said on Wednesday. She added that Washington was just looking for a pretext to impose new sanctions on North Korea and made up the ammunition claim for that purpose.

“There was no clear explanation for these statements, nor could there be, because everything said by American representatives is a lie from the beginning to the end,” Zakharova said in a daily briefing, further describing the claim as “another example of [fake news] and speculations spread by the West about Russia.”

On November 2, the US National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby, announced that North Korea had sent a “significant” number of artillery shells for resupplying the military effort in Ukraine. CNN also reported the claim, citing US intelligence assessments.

North Korea denied the accusations on Tuesday. “We once again make clear that we have never had ‘arms dealings’ with Russia and that we have no plan to do so in the future,” said the Defense Ministry in Pyongyang, accusing the US of “persistently spreading a groundless rumor.”

US claims about North Korean ammunition supplies to Russia date back to September. In response, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, demanded in the Security Council that the US and UK provide evidence of their claims, or be considered peddlers of fake news.

Meanwhile, the US has supplied Ukraine with weapons, ammunition, and assorted military equipment valued at over $54 billion since the hostilities escalated in February. Most of its NATO allies have followed suit, all the while insisting they were not a party to the conflict.

Last month, Czech media reported that Washington was looking to buy $3 billion worth of anti-aircraft missiles and artillery ammunition from South Korea. When Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned that report at the Valdai Discussion Club, South Korea denied it.

“We’ve provided humanitarian and peaceful assistance to Ukraine but never lethal weapons,” said South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, adding that his country is “trying to maintain peaceful relations with all countries around the world, including Russia.”

November 9, 2022 Posted by | Fake News | , , | Leave a comment

US Pretends to be ‘Open to Talks’ With North Korea While Boosting Sanctions

Samizdat – 28.10.2022

Russia and China will continue to jointly address the North Korea issue. The main cause of tensions on the Korean Peninsula is the pressure exerted on the DPRK and the show of force by South Korea and the United States.

Russia remains committed to a joint plan with China for a Korean settlement.

“We will adhere to the agreed position on this issue”, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday at a plenary session of the Valdai Discussion Club.

The Russia-China action plan is based on the principle of reciprocal steps by the United States and the DPRK. These steps could be taken by the United States without damaging its reputation, and on the same basis by DPRK leaders. Moscow and Beijing believe that success in the settlement can only be achieved on the basis of reciprocal movement: action after action, step by step, gradually, and consistently.

At the same time, Moscow and Beijing have repeatedly warned that the formula, according to which North Korea must first completely get rid of its nuclear missile program and only then it will be possible to think about lifting sanctions on the DPRK and ensuring its economic development, is absolutely unsustainable.

“Our roadmap, which we proposed together with China, was that first we should build confidence through mutual meetings, and then we should take some tangible measures, including the suspension of military exercises, tests, and missile launches, and then proceed to negotiations,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier, presenting a joint Russia-China plan for a Korean settlement.

The plan was put forward to the two Koreas, the United States, and Japan in the fall of 2019 after three meetings between the US and DPRK leaders in Singapore, Hanoi, and the demilitarized zone in Panmunjom ended inconclusively. These meetings were held on June 12, 2018, February 27-28, 2019, and June 30, 2019, respectively.

When answering experts’ questions at the Valdai Discussion Club related to the Korea issue, Vladimir Putin said that the unwillingness to talk and the absolutely boorish attitude to North Korea’s interests, including in the sphere of security, has led to the DPRK nuclear issue. In an interview with Sputnik, Alexander Zhebin, director of the Center for Korean Studies and member of the Russian Political Science Association, commented on the Russian president’s statements as follows:

“Vladimir Putin was referring to the boorish behavior of the United States, because the US and the DPRK had an agreement at Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore that Pyongyang would not launch long-range missiles that could reach American territory, and would not test nuclear weapons. The Americans would respond to this, as recorded in the Singapore declaration, by building a new relationship. Instead, the Americans continued to impose more and more sanctions against the DPRK, which means that they have not fulfilled their part of the commitments.”

According to Alexander Zhebin, the US behaves arrogantly towards the DPRK in the UN Security Council as well:

“Each UN Security Council resolution that imposed sanctions on the DPRK stipulated that positive steps by the DPRK to reduce nuclear missile activity must be accompanied by reciprocal steps by those who imposed sanctions and lead to their partial lifting. This has not happened. On the contrary, no matter what the DPRK has done, the US has kept imposing new sanctions, both by Trump and then by Biden.”

Today, instead of negotiations, the US and South Korea are working on scenarios for destroying the top political leadership of the DPRK and the country’s control centers.

“On the one hand, the Americans say they are ready to negotiate with the DPRK at any time, anywhere, and without any conditions. However, at the same time, they have imposed unprecedentedly harsh sanctions on the DPRK and do not intend to lift them. On the contrary, they are obstructing all attempts by China and Russia to reduce the sanctions burden and start a dialog process. In fact, the invitation to negotiations is just talk. Under that guise, the US is implementing a longstanding plan according to which, eventually, the DPRK, under the weight of economic sanctions, will not survive, thus forcing Kim Jong-un to surrender.

They are not hiding the fact that large-scale military exercises carried out by the US and South Korea are used to practice the elimination of the DPRK’s top political leadership and the country’s control centers. The scale of the recent maneuvers is simply off the chart. 240 American and South Korean aircraft, including the latest F-35 stealth fighters, have been deployed off the coast of North Korea. This cannot but cause serious concern to the DPRK leadership, since everything is happening near its borders. The DPRK is very much concerned about its security,” Alexander Zhebin stressed.

The DPRK’s missile launches are a response to US and South Korean military drills, which constantly press Pyongyang to demonstrate its power, Jin Xiangdong, a researcher at Xiamen University’s School of International Relations, said in an interview with Sputnik :

“Since coming to power, the new South Korean government has conducted a series of military exercises near the Korean Peninsula. The DPRK has responded by launching ballistic missiles. The main problem with the situation on the peninsula is that the new South Korean government is constantly putting pressure on North Korea and demonstrating its power. China’s position on the Korean Peninsula issue is consistent and clear. China defends the maintenance of peace and stability on the peninsula, denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, and the resolution of issues through dialog and consultations. Meanwhile, in general, the solution to the Korean Peninsula problem is still complicated.”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the South Korean Armed Forces said that North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan on Friday. The launches took place on the last day of South Korea’s Hoguk military exercises, which began on October 17. These maneuvers featured a large-scale amphibious landing exercise near the city of Pohang on the coast of the Sea of Japan.

On October 31, the Republic of Korea and the United States will launch large-scale joint air exercises. The high intensity and scale of the drills provoke growing tensions in Northeast Asia. The US threatening to give a strong response to a possible nuclear test by the DPRK has aggravated the situation.

October 28, 2022 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

Seventh Nuclear Test? How US and Its Asian Allies are Driving North Korea Into a Corner

By Ekaterina Blunova – Samizdat – 27.10.2022

The US, Japan, and South Korea vowed an “unparalleled” response to a potential seventh nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). However, the countries’ officials did not clarify precisely what measures they would take.

“This deterrence through threat of punishment by Washington and its allies is unlikely to succeed,” said Dr. Zhang Baohui, director of the Center for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. “Pyongyang follows its own strategic logic when deciding whether to pursue new tests. A rise in tensions on the peninsula will only heighten North Korea’s insecurity, motivating it to continue to pursue the nuclear option.”

The US and its Asian allies reportedly fear that Pyongyang could be planning a nuclear bomb test for the first time since 2017. However, they have yet to provide details backing their concerns. Meanwhile, the US and South Korea have stepped up joint military drills in the region over the past several months.

Earlier, President Donald Trump’s White House tried to facilitate dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang. These efforts were halted by President Joe Biden, who announced in May 2021 that he would not give DPRK leader Kim Jong-un “recognition” as the “legitimate” head of the state unless the latter denuclearized the country. Washington’s shift under Biden did not go unnoticed by the DPRK, and was followed by eight missile tests by Pyongyang in 2021.

The number of missile tests carried out by North Korea rose steeply in 2022, as Yoon Suk-yeol won the presidency in South Korea in March and declared Communist Pyongyang the “main enemy” of Seoul. Furthermore, the new South Korean president has openly flirted with the idea of a preemptive strike against his country’s northern neighbor.

In August 2022, Washington and Seoul kicked off their largest military exercises since 2018, with Yoon vowing to further boost “deterrence” against the DPRK. Earlier this month, Seoul also launched the 12-day Hoguk exercise with the participation of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and the US military. The Hoguk drills will last until October 28.

Almost simultaneously, South Korea joined a US-led multinational exercise on cyber operations called Cyber Flag for the first time. According to the South Korean Defense Ministry, 18 personnel from the South Korean military are participating in the exercise, held from October 24 to 28 and which involves 25 countries.

Beijing has repeatedly warned Washington and Seoul against provoking Pyongyang and igniting instability on the Korean Peninsula. “All parties concerned should focus on the overall situation of peace and stability on the peninsula and prevent the situation from escalating,” Geng Shuang, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told the international body on October 5. Geng highlighted that the recent bolstering of the US military alliance in the Asia-Pacific region has only increased the risk of military confrontation.

“Historical experience shows that dialogue and consultation are the only correct way to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue,” the Chinese official stressed.

Diplomatic Logjam Between North and South

However, if Pyongyang decides to conduct a seventh nuclear test, there is little if anything that the US and its Asian allies can do to prevent it, according to Zhang.

“Frankly, I don’t see what the three can do with North Korea’s seventh nuclear test,” the Chinese scholar said. “It is already under very systematic sanctions by the United Nations and it is hard to imagine that the US, South Korea, and Japan could pursue additional meaningful sanctions against Pyongyang. Current sanctions were adopted due to China and Russia’s support in 2017. Now, the strategic landscape has completely changed and it is now impossible to expect China and Russia supporting new sanction measures.”

The US and its Asian allies are likely to take a series of measures in response to the DPRK’s potential nuclear test, according to Michael Madden, nonresident fellow at the Stimson Center, leading contributing analyst to 38 North, and director and founder of NK Leadership Watch.
“The ‘unparalleled response’ line comes from remarks made by the Republic of Korea [South Korea] 1st Vice Foreign Minister following interactions with officials from the US and Japan,” said Madden. “The primary response will be an increase in military exercises in and around the Korean Peninsula.”

For its part, the US might also move certain military assets into the area as a warning to the DPRK, according to the analyst.

“There has already been a loose plan to continue some exercises and drills through the middle of November, albeit on a small scale,” he said. “In the event of the seventh nuclear test, the scope and equipment of those exercises will probably be expanded. From the ROK we might also see them scrap some of the agreements they made with the DPRK during the Moon Administration. The Yoon Administration has called attention to the North violating the 2018 inter-Korea military agreement so a seventh nuclear test raises the probability that both Koreas will discard that agreement.”

For its part, the North could launch or attempt to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and additionally carry out intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) drills, according to Madden.

“The North could very well declare itself on a wartime footing which they had done in 2013. If there are additional military exercises from the US, ROK and/or Japan, it is highly probable the DPRK will respond with their own drills and exercises. Of course, all of this activity would be an escalation,” the US analyst projected.

According to Madden, the unfolding situation “is a bit of a diplomatic logjam” between the South and North, as Pyongyang has already announced that it will not negotiate its nuclear weapons program or inventory, while the US, South Korea, and Japan urge it to denuclearize.

However, the analyst did not rule out that South and North Korea could have a meeting or interaction to reduce tensions if military engagement between the two escalates at the border. Another de-escalation scenario could involve another country, like China or Russia, brokering something between the two sides.

“In the current context of the re-rise of tension, a diplomatic option no longer exists,” argued Zhang. “The only viable alternative, as some have suggested in the US, is to accept North Korea’s nuclear status. That would remove a source of conflict between the US and North Korea simply by recognizing and accepting the status quo. However, Washington should not be expected to pursue this option.”

October 27, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

South Korea, US resume drills, blame North for tensions

By Frank Smith | Press TV | October 21, 2022

South Korea and the US are holding more military exercises this week, with their troops staging a joint river-crossing drill on Wednesday.

The war games follow the joint drills Washington and Seoul conducted in August– the largest such exercises in 5 years. US officials claim the renewed military drills are defensive in nature.

North Korea views the recent drills as a rehearsal for the invasion of North Korea, and has responded by firing artillery and short range missiles into nearby waters surrounding the Korean Peninsula.

Activists have expressed concern over what they call cycles of dangerous exercises drills and military spending.

North Korea has this year conducted several ballistic missile tests, which it argues are efforts to deter the threat from the US and South Korea, as Seoul continues to upgrade its arsenal of submarines, ships, aircraft and missiles.

South Korea, Japan and the US, on the other hand, blame North Korea’s missile tests for the increased security risk on the Korean peninsula.

US officials have repeatedly claimed that they have reached out to North Korea for unconditional negotiations. But in the meantime, the US-South Korea alliance appears determined to increase military pressure against Pyongyang, with large-scale joint air force drills scheduled to begin on October 31st.

October 21, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment