Responding to the North Korean Activities

By SLD Team

Is the US response to North Korea in the context of sequestration enough?

The Japan Times has highlighted the concern throughout  region as North Korea declares that the Korean armistice is OBE.

The Korean Peninsula will become a practice battlefield next week, with both North and South staging large-scale military drills as escalating tensions keep their armies on a hair trigger.

Saber-rattling and displays of brinkmanship are nothing new in the region, but there are concerns that the current situation is so volatile that just one accidental step could escalate into serious confrontation and conflict.

The root of the tension lies in the North’s third nuclear test last month and Pyongyang’s rage at the punitive sanctions subsequently imposed by the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.

As well as threatening a “pre-emptive nuclear attack” on the U.S. and South Korea, Pyongyang said it would — effective Monday — rip up the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War and scrap peace pacts signed with Seoul.

South Korea, which usually shrugs off Pyongyang’s fierier rhetoric, has responded this time, promising to retaliate against any provocation with a precision strike on the North’s leadership command.

Such is the background for the upcoming military maneuvers.

On Monday, South Korea and the U.S. will launch their annual Key Resolve joint exercise, which is largely computer-simulated but still involves thousands of troops. North Korea is particularly sensitive about this exercise, which envisions the deployment of U.S. reinforcements to the Korean Peninsula in the event of war.

Meanwhile, the North is apparently gearing up for its own statewide military

maneuvers of its own next week, involving all three main wings of its armed forces.

“Emboldened by its successful rocket launch in December and its third nuclear test, North Korea is heaping the pressure on,” said Yoo Ho Yeol, a political science professor at Korea University.

A former senior US official who dealt often with North Korea and the defense of South Korea finds the response perhaps troubling.

A joint exercise with only 3500 US troops and 10,000 South Korean troops is paltry compared to anything we’ve done in the past. In the 1980s and 1990s the US routinely would deploy upwards of 100,000 troops for the March exercise.

In the Clinton administration one of the negotiating points of North Korea was to have us cancel exercise “team spirit” in March. We yielded to North Korea to get the agreed framework (which no longer exists).

We’ve since put back on this exercise but as I said before it is no where near its previous size. North Korea has been emboldened to think that we will cancel exercises if they make enough noise.

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