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Thread: Korean Peninsula On The Brink Of War

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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    RFN, we are ripe for the picking.

    If the TAA doesn’t do something now, or soon, it most certainly will confuse me.

    Because I don’t think there will be as lucrative a chance again in the near future.

    Maybe they're waiting for our economy to get worse, which I surely think it will.

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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    Serial Number on N.Korean Shell Strengthens Cheonan Evidence

    A handwritten serial number found on one of the 122 mm North Korean artillery shells that fell on Yeonpyeong Island on Tuesday has reminded investigators of a key piece of evidence that implicated the North in the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan.

    A similar handwritten serial number was found on debris from the torpedo that sank the Cheonan in March. The military is analyzing the artillery shell and has yet to determine the origin of the ink and how the serial number was applied.
    Left: The handwritten serial number on one of the 122 mm North Korean artillery shells that fell on Yeonpyeong Island on Tuesday; Right: The similar serial number on debris from the torpedo that sank the Navy corvette Cheonan in March.
    South Korean netizens said the find disproves skeptics who claimed that it makes no sense for North Korea to number high-tech ordnance with a magic marker, because it shows that the North does exactly that. Conspiracy theorists claimed that it was South Korean investigators who put the serial number on the torpedo to put the blame on North Korea. "They said any traces of magic marker on a torpedo should have disappeared in the heat of the blast, but how do they explain the clear, handwritten serial number this time?" one netizen asked.

    But a military spokesman said more analysis of the writing and pattern on the artillery shell is needed.
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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    U.S. Sen. John McCain: Time for regime change in North Korea
    28 November 2010

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    Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain said Sunday that the time for regime change in North Korea may be near.
    “I think it’s time we talked about regime change,” the Arizona senator said on CNN Sunday morning. “I do not mean military action, but I do believe that this is a very unstable regime.”
    The comment comes in the midst of rising tensions in the Korean peninsula. The U.S. States joined South Korea in a series of war games expected to last through mid-week. North Korea has warned both parties to remain outside of disputed coastal territory near its border.
    Mr. McCain said nations, other than the U.S., should exert pressure on North Korea. He said the U.S. continues to be the only nation willing to take a leadership role in addressing the crisis.
    “The key to this is China,” Mr. McCain said, adding “unfortunately China is not behaving as a responsible world power.”
    He noted that he does not think it is in China’s best interest to see the dispute continue.
    According to Wikileaks documents, U.S. officials have been discussing the possibility of a unified Korea should North Korea’s economic condition worsen, causing a collapse of the country.
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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    Lee calls N. Korea's attack 'inhumane,' calls for national unity
    President Lee Myung-bak on Monday strongly condemned North Korea's recent shelling of a South Korean border island, calling it an "inhumane crime."
    "A military attack on civilians is a crime against humanity strictly prohibited even during a war," Lee said in a televised speech.
    He pointed out that among the North's numerous provocations, its bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea last Tuesday marked the first direct strike on the South's territory since the end of their 1950-53 Korean War.

    The shelling killed two marines and two civilians and wounded nearly 20 others.
    Artillery rounds pounded an area just about 10 meters away from a school, Lee said.
    "I can't contain my anger over the North Korean regime's cruelty that ignores even the lives of children," Lee said. "(South Korea) will make North Korea pay the due price by all means for its provocation from now on."
    The president said South Korea is running out of patience, although it has endeavored to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis through dialogue and cooperation and has lavished its communist neighbor with humanitarian aid.
    "What has returned to us is nuclear development and the artillery shelling of Yeonpyeong Island" after the sinking of a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, in March, he said.
    "Now, we know that it is difficult to expect North Korea to abandon its nuclear (weapons) and military brinkmanship on its own," he said.
    Lee appealed to the South Korean people for unity, saying a "unified people" would take national security to its strongest level.
    He said the people displayed unity against the North's attack on Yeonpyeong, unlike when the nation was divided earlier this year following the sinking of the Cheonan, which was blamed on Pyongyang.
    Meanwhile, Lee offered a public apology for security loopholes.
    "As the president, I stand here today with a sense of full responsibility" for the failure to protect the lives and property of the people, he said.
    -The Korea Herald/Asia News Network
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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    SKorea leader vows consequences for future NKorea attacks

    FOSTER KLUG Associated Press
    11/29/2010 | 09:37 AM



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    UPDATED 11:45 a.m. - SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's president on Monday took responsibility for failing to protect his citizens from a deadly North Korean artillery attack last week, vowing tough consequences for any future aggression and expressing outrage over the "ruthlessness of the North Korean regime."

    He didn't offer specifics about what consequences the North would face, and he offered few details on what actions South Korea will take in response to last week's attack, other than promising to strengthen the military.

    "If the North commits any additional provocations against the South, we will make sure that it pays a dear price without fail," Lee said. "The South Korean people now unequivocally understand that prolonged endurance and tolerance will spawn nothing but more serious provocations."

    "I feel deeply responsible for failing to protect my people's lives and property," Lee said. In South Korea, it is not rare for top officials to resign, apologize or express responsibility when their government faces public criticism.

    Lee Myung-bak's short speech to the country came as a nuclear-powered U.S. supercarrier and a South Korean destroyer participated in joint military exercises, a united show of force nearly a week after an artillery barrage on Yeonpyeong island killed four, including two civilians.

    Amid the heightened tension, classified U.S. State Department documents leaked Sunday by online whistle-blower WikiLeaks showed the United States and South Korea discussing possible scenarios for reunification of the peninsula, and American worry over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

    Under pressure to take stronger action in dealing with the defiant North, Lee lashed out at Pyongyang.

    "Only a few meters away from where shells landed, there is a school where classes were going on," Lee said. "I am outraged by the ruthlessness of the North Korean regime, which is even indifferent to the lives of little children."

    Lee has come under withering criticism for what opponents have called lapses in South Korea's response to the attack. Lee has replaced his defense minister, ordered reinforcements for the 4,000 troops on Yeonpyeong and four other Yellow Sea islands and upgraded rules of engagement.

    Minutes after Lee finished his speech, North Korea issued a fresh threat to attack South Korea and the United States, calling the allies' joint war drills "yet another grave military provocation."

    The maneuvers are an "intentional plot" by the United States and South Korea to prepare for war against North Korea, Pyongyang's main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary.

    The North will launch counter attacks without hesitation on South Korea and U.S. forces if they engage in provocation again, according to the commentary carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

    China, the North's only major ally, has belatedly jumped into the fray. Beijing's top nuclear envoy, Wu Dawei, called for an emergency meeting in early December among regional powers involved in nuclear disarmament talks, including North Korea.

    Seoul gave a cool response to Beijing's proposal, saying it should be "reviewed very carefully" in light of North Korea's recent revelation of a new uranium-enrichment facility.

    The troubled relations between the two Koreas, which fought a three-year war in the 1950s, have steadily deteriorated since Lee's conservative government took power in 2008 with a tough new policy toward the North.

    Eight months ago, a South Korean warship went down in the western waters, killing 46 sailors in the worst attack on the South Korean military since the Korean War. Then, last Tuesday, North Korean troops showered artillery on Yeonpyeong, a South Korean-held island that houses military bases as well as a civilian population — an attack that marked a new level of hostility.

    Two South Korean marines and two civilians were killed and 18 others wounded in the hailstorm of artillery that sent residents fleeing into bunkers and reduced homes on the island to charred rubble.

    North Korea blamed the South for provoking the attack by holding artillery drills near the Koreas' maritime border, and has threatened to be "merciless" if the war games — set to last until Dec. 1 — get too close to its territory.

    Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, U.S. Sen. John McCain said it was time to discuss "regime change" in North Korea, but the former Navy combat pilot didn't say how he advocates changing its government.

    McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he was not suggesting military action against the North. He said the Chinese, the North's closest ally, should rein in its neighbor, and he accused Beijing of failing to play a responsible role in either the Korean peninsula or the world stage.

    North Korea has walked a path of defiance since launching a rocket in April 2009 in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and abandoning the disarmament process in protest against the condemnation that followed.

    However, in recent months Pyongyang has shown an eagerness to get back to the talks, and has appeared increasingly frustrated by U.S. and South Korean reluctance to restart the negotiations.

    Seoul has said it wants an acknowledgment of regret for the sinking of the Cheonan warship in March as well as a concrete show of commitment to denuclearization.

    North Korea, which cites the U.S. military presence in South Korea as a main reason behind its drive to build atomic weapons, routinely calls the joint exercises between the allies a rehearsal for war.

    Washington, which keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea to protect the ally, insists the routine drills were planned before last Tuesday's attack.

    The documents leaked by WikiLeaks showed deep U.S. worries about North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs.

    The New York Times published documents that indicated the United States and South Korea were "gaming out an eventual collapse of North Korea" and discussing the prospects for a unified country, if the North's economic troubles and political transition lead it to implode. - GMANews.TV
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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    I have to say that I just can't see Korea as unified.

    There are some serious differences in the thought processes between those of the South and North.

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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    Quote Originally Posted by Backstop View Post
    I have to say that I just can't see Korea as unified.

    There are some serious differences in the thought processes between those of the South and North.
    There's nothing that a few years in a re-education camp can't fix. With Captain Zero at the helm, we'll see Seoul blasted and 10s of thousands of South Korean nationals abducted and placed in those camps.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
    -- Theodore Roosevelt


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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    Quote Originally Posted by Backstop View Post
    I have to say that I just can't see Korea as unified.

    There are some serious differences in the thought processes between those of the South and North.
    I agree. And beyond the human cost of regime change and integration, the economic cost to bring North Korea into the 21st century will be staggering. Minimal infrastructure, low power supplies, no compeditive factory output to speak of, 1950's 60's farming structure, low education levels, few technically skilled workers... the cost of integration and bringing N. Korea up to speed will be measured in the trillions of $$$. It'll make the money pumped into Iraq look like chump change.

    Then there's the angle of how easy picking they'll be for organized crime. A backwards isolated population now seeing the relative wealth the world lives in and how poor they are. Organized crime moves in and waves money around... it'll catch quite a few eyes. Wads of fast cash for smuggling, drug trade, prostitution... you name it.

    Post regime change will not be pretty in many aspects. It needs to happen, but we need to be critically aware of the economic and social landmines that will be left behind.
    Last edited by Toad; November 29th, 2010 at 15:26. Reason: typo

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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    Well... Status quo is not going to be a good thing either....

    I don't have all the answers, but honestly, I think there should be something done about the North.
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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    North Korean Belligerence Could be Part of Leadership Succession

    Steve Herman | Seoul 29 November 2010
    [IMG]http://media.voanews.com/images/480*293/AP+N+Korea+Kim+Jong+Un+29Nov10+480.jpg[/IMG] Photo: AP

    Kim Jong Un attends massive military parade (file photo)


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    The most frequently heard question in the wake of a North Korean attack on a South Korean island is "why?" Those who have devoted their careers to studying North Korea, one of the world's most opaque nations, say it is difficult to get a clear answer. One theory ties the artillery attack last week to efforts to establish the son of leader Kim Jong Il as his successor.

    Last Tuesday's shelling of a community on a South Korean island was not the first time North Korea has lashed out at its neighbor since the Korean War in the 1950s.

    And, a number of experts on North Korea say, it will not be the last. Indeed, several say South Korea and the United States, which has 25,000 troops in the country, may have to contend with additional military actions by North Korea in the months and years ahead.

    Military first

    They say it is an inevitable part of the transition of leadership in a country that has declared a "military first" policy for its scant resources.


    [IMG]http://media.voanews.com/images/230*230/Gen+John+Wickham+Jr.jpg[/IMG]US Army

    Retired General John Wickham Jr. (file photo)


    Retired General John Wickham Jr. shares that view. The former U.S. Army Chief of Staff and commander of U.S. forces in South Korea says the North Korean military is critical to a successful leadership transition in Pyongyang.

    "It's conceivable that Kim Jong Il has given more independence to the military as a quid pro quo - 'if you will support my initiative here, which you may not like, my efforts to put my son in to follow me," Wickham said.

    Seeking support
    In the past few months, North Korea's government has established leader Kim Jong Il's son, Kim Jong Un, as his successor. The younger Kim, who is about 28 years old, was made an army general in September, although he has no military background. Some North Korea scholars think that by allowing, or even encouraging, the military to strike out at South Korea, the elder Kim hopes to secure support for the succession.

    Although two South Korean civilians and two marines died in the shelling last week, Seoul responded only with a limited amount of return fire, and announcements of new military training with the United States. The training includes naval maneuvers that started Sunday and involve a U.S. aircraft carrier.

    More strikes ahead?

    While some critics say Seoul and Washington responded too softly, Wickham says they may have no choice but to continue with a restrained response. He expects Pyongyang's military, which is believed to have a few nuclear weapons, to conduct more limited strikes.

    "This could be a manifestation of the North Korean military exercising its independence and exercising some of the military prowess that they have to demonstrate that 'we are strong and we are - for our own purposes and for neighboring countries' purposes - capable of defending our interests," Wickham said.


    [IMG]http://media.voanews.com/images/230*230/VOA+ICG+Analyst+Daniel+PInkston+230.jpg[/IMG]VOA - S. Herman

    ICG NE Asia analyst Daniel Pinkston
    Northeast Asia analyst Daniel Pinkston of the International Crisis Group says there should not be any expectations that influential moderate voices, if there are any in Pyongyang, will be heard.

    "[For] any of the military leaders that are on the rise and that have influence in the North Korean government to counsel restraint or to show weakness could result in their political demise. So it's very dangerous at the moment, I think," Pinkston said.

    Certainly, the talk out of Pyongyang is tough.

    Joint exercises

    A North Korea television newscast describes the U.S. aircraft carrier leading the exercises with South Korea as the spearhead aggressive force targeting Pyongyang.

    The announcer reads an official statement that calls the maneuvers "nothing but an attempt to stubbornly light the fuse of war by inventing a justification of aggression by whatever means."

    Both the U.S. and South Korea are hesitant to push North Korea too far. A miscalculation could lead to a war that leaves, by some estimates, more than a million people dead, and would devastate South Korea's robust economy.

    Motivations

    Despite Pyongyang's tough talk, other regional analysts theorize North Korea does not realistically expect to defeat South Korea's military or force Washington to back off.

    Rather, they say, Pyongyang hopes to bring South Korea down a notch by creating so much uncertainty that its economy is damaged. Or Pyongyang is trying to convince South Korean voters it would be better to replace the current conservative government with one resembling preceding administrations.

    The previous two South Korean governments tried to better relations, and gave substantial aid to North Korea, hoping that would persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programs and peacefully co-exist.

    The current government of President Lee Myung-bak, however, has taken a tougher line, cutting off most aid to the impoverished North until it makes progress on its pledges to halt its nuclear weapons programs.
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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    Had a chance to talk to a couple guys this morning who were army in the South Korea area over the years.

    They have two widely different views.

    One thinks like I do.... this might just escalate based on what China says (or doesn't say) and the other says, "The country is full of a million man staving army. Scarecrows with guns. The South has a military force which is light years ahead of the North. The North has a few artillery pieces. The South could stomp them into the mud."

    I pointed out they have nukes as well - and he shrugged and said "So do we...."

    I didn't bother to point out they aren't there in South Korea though - but oh well.

    The second guy says this is all part of the standard operation pattern for DPRK and they are hungry, want money for food and are willing to piss off people to get it so they can shut up for awhile.

    They are just poking a little harder this time.
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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    Japan says 6-way talks on North Korea unacceptable: report


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    TOKYO | Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:50am EST

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said that holding six-party talks on North Korea is "unacceptable" unless Pyongyang makes concessions, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
    "It's unacceptable for us to hold six-party talks only because North Korea has gone amok," the Wall Street Journal's online edition quoted Maehara as saying in an interview.
    "We must first see some kind of sincere effort from North Korea, on its uranium enrichment program and the latest incident."
    (Reporting by Chisa Fujioka, editing by Andrew Marshall)
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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    Mal and Toad - you both see things exactly as I do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Donaldson View Post
    I don't have all the answers, but honestly, I think there should be something done about the North.
    I have an answer:


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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    I was kinda thinking the same thing, Backstop.

    /chuckles
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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Residents on the front-line South Korean island bombarded by North Korea last week have been told to take shelter tomorrow. A South Korean military official says that forces on the island will conduct new live-fire artillery drills. An official at South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff says artillery rounds will not be fired toward North Korea.
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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    SKorean leader talks tough on NKorea; military plans new artillery drills from tense island


    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's president took responsibility Monday for failing to protect his citizens from a deadly North Korean artillery attack last week, expressing outrage at the North and vowing tough consequences for any future aggression.


    Hours after Lee Myung-bak's nationally televised speech, South Korea's military announced it would conduct new drills — including live-fire exercises — on Yeonpyeong Island on Tuesday morning, and issued a warning over loudspeakers for residents to take shelter in underground bunkers by 9:30 a.m.


    Artillery rounds will be fired into the waters southwest of Yeonpyeong Island, not toward North Korea, an official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday. He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.


    Similar live drills by South Korean troops one week earlier triggered the deadly bombardment of artillery by North Korea that decimated parts of Yeonpyeong Island, which lies just 7 miles (11 kilometers) from North Korean shores. Two marines and two civilian construction workers were killed, and 18 others injured.


    The renewed live-fire drills may serve to underline Lee's attempts to be more forceful with the North, or be a move to test new weapons being installed on the island.
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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    South Korea Warns Of Consequences For Aggression

    by NPR Staff and Wires



    South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (right) was joined by U.S. Gen. Walter Sharp, commander of American forces in Korea, during a visit to a U.S. base in Seoul as the two countries take part in joint military exercises.


    November 29, 2010


    South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took responsibility for failing to protect his country against attack and threatened retaliation against any further provocation by North Korea.


    Lee, making his first public statement since the North shelled Yeonpyeong island a week ago, expressed remorse for the deaths of two South Korean marines and two civilians and called the attack "a crime against humanity."


    "If the North commits any additional provocations against the South, we will make sure that it pays a dear price without fail," he warned during Monday's televised speech from the presidential Blue House in Seoul.


    Minutes after the national address, Pyongyang renewed its own threat to attack, calling ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises in the Yellow Sea another grave military provocation.


    In a sign of disarray hours after Lee vowed to get tough on the North, South Korea's military announced provocative new artillery drills on Yeonpyeong Island, then immediately postponed them Monday. Similar live-fire maneuvers by Southern troops last week triggered the North's bombardment that decimated parts of the border-zone island and drew return fire in a clash that set the region on edge.


    Lee has come under withering criticism for what opponents have called lapses in South Korea's response to the attack. Lee has replaced his defense minister, ordered reinforcements for the 4,000 troops on Yeonpyeong and four other Yellow Sea islands and upgraded rules of engagement.


    NPR

    INTERACTIVE: Click The Map To Read About The History Of The Conflict Between North And South Korea And Each Side's Military Capabilities


    In his speech, Lee made no mention of China's offer to broker talks between the Koreas. Pyongyang's closest ally made the offer Sunday during a hastily arranged news conference.


    "I would like to stress that although the proposed consultations do not mean the resumption of the six-party talks, we do hope they will help create conditions for the relaunch of the six-party talks," China's deputy foreign minister, Wu Dawei, said through an interpreter.


    Japan responded that it will not attend such talks, according to a Kyodo news agency report citing the country's chief spokesman. South Korea said it would consider the proposal very cautiously. Meanwhile, a U.S. spokesman said Pyongyang needs to take clear steps to demonstrate a change in behavior.

    China has so far failed to condemn North Korea's attack. But intense international pressure has produced a flurry of diplomacy: Beijing has sent a senior official to meet with Lee and is preparing to receive North Korea's parliamentary chief Tuesday.

    Some experts dismiss China's call as a face-saving measure. But Zhu Feng of Peking University says it represents a change in policy.

    "Such an emergency call for consultation shows Beijing's new activism," Zhu said. "I also see some sort of Chinese dilemma. We are always embarrassed by some sort of failed balance between maintaining our traditional relations with Pyongyang, and how to address the very important concern about security and stability to South Korea, U.S. and the international community."

    Others, however, believe calls for Beijing to rein in Pyongyang are little more than wishful thinking.

    "I think we tend to exaggerate China's influence over North Korea in order to rationalize our own inactivity. No country can have much of an influence on the domestic politics of an ultranationalist state," said North Korea expert Brian Myers of Dongseo University in South Korea.

    As the U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington takes part in massive military exercises with South Korea, it is interesting to note that China hasn't protested more. Beijing was livid earlier this year when such exercises were suggested.

    China's relative silence — coming against a backdrop of growing nationalism — speaks volumes, according to Zhu.

    "My interpretation is that it's some sort of signaling: If North Korea will continue to provoke so very recklessly, then Beijing will not show any support," he said.

    Inside China, the voices of discontent are growing. Some commentators are openly suggesting that North Korea's erratic actions have canceled out its use as a buffer zone for China. But Pyongyang has crossed red line after red line without losing Chinese support — and no one is prepared to guess where Beijing's bottom line might be.

    Doualy Xaykaothao in Seoul and NPR's Louisa Lim in Beijing contributed to this report, which also contains material from The Associated Press.
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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    U.S. and S. Korea navies send a message

    By Alan D. Romberg, Special to CNN
    November 29, 2010 -- Updated 1517 GMT (2317 HKT)




    STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • The U.S. and South Korea are conducting naval exercises in the Yellow Sea
    • Alan Romberg says these are a message to North Korea that it could provoke retaliation
    • He says incidents of North Korean aggression have so far met with little military response
    • U.S. also wants to demonstrate its freedom to project power in international waters, he says



    Editor's note: Alan D. Romberg is Distinguished Fellow and director of the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C. He has worked and written extensively about U.S. policy in East Asia for many years in and out of government.


    Washington (CNN) -- The current large-scale U.S.-South Korean naval exercise off the west coast of Korea has multiple purposes. After last week's North Korean attack on a South Korean island, the most important is to send a message to Pyongyang that Washington and Seoul have the capability -- and the will -- to respond with devastating force to any further acts of aggression.


    A second is to strengthen the U.S.-ROK (Republic of Korea) joint capability to coordinate such a response, as well as to reinforce their anti-submarine capabilities that were so obviously inadequate last March, when North Korea torpedoed a South Korean naval vessel on the high seas.


    In light of the fact that past North Korean misbehavior has not produced serious consequences for Pyongyang, it may be difficult to convince the North that "this time we're serious." There was a South Korean artillery response to the shelling last week, but it was apparently flawed in execution and did not produce much damage.
    What is needed is to credibly promise a harsh response to future attacks, yet not trigger North Korean escalation or a preemptive war on the assumption that an effort to destroy the North is looming.


    Despite its labeling the current situation an "ultra-emergency wartime situation," the North Korean regime is not suicidal, and one ought not assume it will take actions that will predictably bring destruction down on its head. But its apparent and dangerous belief that it can act with impunity has been reinforced over many years. It comes not only from the measured South Korean response after the ship sinking, and from the absence of truly punishing actions after it reneged on commitments not to test intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

    Even assassination attempts against South Korean presidents and the blowing up of a civilian Korean airliner in years past produced little by way of lasting consequences for the North.

    Fear of precipitating a second Korean War has proved an effective deterrent against strong U.S.-ROK retaliation. This time, Washington and Seoul seem determined not only to demonstrate the resolve to strike back (albeit proportionately) if necessary, but to strengthen existing UN-sponsored sanctions against the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) that will effectively curtail the North's illicit activities as well as squeeze individuals in the elite structure.

    Another dimension of the current exercises, which include the aircraft carrier George Washington and its strike group, is to demonstrate to China that, its strident objections to naval operations in the Yellow Sea notwithstanding, the United States not only has the right to operate in international waters but will do so in defense of its national interests.

    The point is not to stick a finger in China's eye; Washington would far prefer to cooperate with Beijing than to appear to challenge it in order to change North Korean behavior.

    But the U.S. has argued to China for a long time -- to little effect -- that its coddling of Pyongyang was not producing better behavior. Rather, it was enabling the North to pursue its contrarian ways, producing stalemate in the nuclear talks, the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel, and now a calculated attack on a South Korean island that killed civilians as well as military personnel.

    Thus, the American message to Beijing is: "If you cannot help bring North Korea to cease its provocative behavior, we will be forced to take actions that, while not aimed at you, will discomfit you." If this leads China to more seriously strive to rein North Korea in, all the better.

    Moreover, China shrilly insisted a few months ago that no U.S. naval exercises should take place in the Yellow Sea -- and especially that no aircraft carrier should enter those waters. In the face of that position, at some point the U.S. had to exercise its freedom of navigation rights. But the choice of timing -- not ideal with a Chinese state visit to Washington planned for January -- was dictated by Pyongyang's actions.

    Some observers say the only way to change North Korean behavior is to engage it. In fact, the United States is quite willing to engage the North, including in serious negotiations.

    But it is not willing to look the other way in the face of Pyongyang's aggressive military behavior and its blatant violation of its most basic pledges and UN resolutions regarding denuclearization. And it is not willing, as the North appears to want, to accept the DPRK as a de facto nuclear weapons state by sitting down with Pyongyang absent a demonstration by the North that it is committed to denuclearize (even if doubts abound regarding implementation).

    If the North does something meaningful to lower tensions with the South and to demonstrate "sincerity" about abandoning nuclear weapons, the prospects for resumed six-party denuclearization talks will improve. Meanwhile, however, the United States will continue to show strong support for its South Korean ally to counter Pyongyang's threatening actions.

    The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Alan D. Romberg.
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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    Opinion

    Posted on 08:28 PM, November 29, 2010
    Commentary -- By Yuriko Koike

    China’s choice in North Korea

    TOKYO -- If the most dangerous moment for any dictatorship is when it starts to reform, North Korea looks ready to turn that truism on its head. Its recent shelling of South Korea suggests that the failing Kim dynasty might set East Asia alight rather than undertake any serious reform. If peace really is the key component of China’s rise, the Chinese must now rein in their mercurial client.

    Trying to understand the "Hermit Kingdom" can be like staring into a black hole. Some view the bombardment of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island as a bid to divert North Koreans’ attention from their country’s collapsing economy, or perhaps from the approaching death of their "Dear Leader," Kim Jong-il, or to create a synthetic reputation as a military leader for Kim’s son and intended heir, the 27-year-old (or so) "Young General," Kim Jong-un. Others view the attack as simply another in a long line of provocations, and thus not to be taken all that seriously.


    Hwang Jang-yop, North Korea’s former chief ideologist and its most senior defector to the South, describes North Korea as a mixture of "socialism, modern feudalism, and militarism." It has proven to be a lethal combination.


    Roughly 1.5 million of North Korea’s 23 million people are estimated to have starved to death over the past decade. Hunger remains widespread, if not as dire as two years ago. The standard daily ration is 150-300 grams (5-10 ounces) of corn or rice (equivalent to roughly four slices of dry bread), depending on the location. Food often remains unavailable in rural areas.


    Atop North Korea’s starvation economy sits a personality cult that dwarfs those of Stalin or Mao. Ubiquitous images of Kim Jong-il and his father, Kim Il-sung, are the official symbols of a secular theocracy based on juche (pronounced choocheh), the Kims’ contribution to the world’s patrimony of totalitarian ideologies. As with the Church or the divine right of kings, the system cannot be challenged without undermining the infallibility of its perfect leaders.


    The third and seemingly scariest component of Hwang’s formula, militarism, may in fact prove to be the system’s Achilles heel. Maintaining the world’s fifth-largest army in a perpetual state of combat readiness is crushingly expensive for one of its poorest countries, with the military budget claiming an estimated one-third of GDP. The armed forces operate a parallel economy, with its own mines, farms, and factories, though many soldiers and junior officers still go hungry.


    The permanent war footing is just one manifestation of North Korea’s obsession with rugged self-sufficiency. Juche is autarky raised to the level of philosophy. The North Koreans consider any reliance on the outside world as a source of weakness, even though their economy would collapse without Chinese handouts.


    Because North Korea does not repay loans, it cannot borrow money; because it reneges on deals, it drives away potential partners; and, because it aims for autarky, it cannot specialize or exploit its comparative advantages. As a result, its annual exports -- which include film and television animation, reconditioned cars, and, inevitably, an illicit trade in arms -- are worth less than $1 billion.


    Not surprisingly, defectors nowadays describe an environment of social breakdown, petty crime, and a Darwinian struggle for survival. There is despondency and latent unrest. Corruption is rife.


    So what is Kim up to with this latest attack on South Korea?


    Kim’s main target was surely the six-party talks between his regime and the United States, United Nations, China, Russia, South Korea, and Japan. Previously, North Korea was offered economic and other inducements to give up its nuclear weapons. Like Iran, however, Kim wants to have his cake and eat it: eventual acceptance as a nuclear power and all the economic enticements from the US, Europe, Russia, and China to de-nuclearize.


    That might seem crazy, especially given the likelihood of another round of economically crippling sanctions following the bombardment. But Kim’s calculus is different from that of most rulers. He has always shown scant regard for his people’s plight, and he still expects to get two-thirds or more of the oil and food he needs from China.


    In the face of the North’s provocations, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has demonstrated more of the statesmanship he showed in the recent G-20 summit in Seoul, when he successfully crafted a new focus on development for the group. President Lee’s allies have rallied, rightly, to his cause, but even we recognize that his restraint cannot be unending.


    Much, then, depends on the Chinese, whose self-defeating regional diplomacy has managed to push a listless and defense-shy Japanese government into closer cooperation with the US on security matters, and has inspired South Korea to seek out strategic partnerships with other Asian powers, including India. One hopes that North Korea’s recent behavior -- the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March, and now the shelling of Yeonpyeong island (which followed a supposedly "accidental" shooting incident in the DMZ in October) -- will focus minds in Beijing.


    But China, which fears a collapse of the North Korean regime above all, does not want to antagonize Kim. And China is keen to draw South Korea closer in the game of regional rivalries. The result could be a new round of efforts by China to manipulate regional suspicion -- or worse.


    Alternatively, China could shoulder some real responsibility for security in East Asia and close ranks against Kim and his reckless brinksmanship. That should start with support for a clear condemnation of North Korea by the UN Security Council. That global effort will almost certainly not succeed without a credible Chinese threat to sever Kim’s economic umbilical cord.


    Yuriko Koike, Japan’s former minister of defense and national security adviser, is now chairman of the Executive Council of the Liberal Democratic Party.

    Project Syndicate

    www.project-syndicate.org
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    Default Re: North And South Korea On The Brink Of War, Russian Diplomat Warns

    SKorea announces new artillery drills on island

    By HYUNG-JIN KIM and FOSTER KLUG







    SEOUL, South Korea


    South Korean troops geared up Monday for new artillery drills on a front-line island targeted by a deadly North Korean bombardment last week as the president vowed tougher retaliation for any future aggression from North Korea.


    Similar live-fire maneuvers by South Korean troops one week earlier triggered the North's bombardment that decimated parts of Yeonpyeong Island, killed four people and drew return fire in a clash that set the region on edge. The new drills planned for Tuesday could have even higher stakes: South Korean and American warships are currently engaged in separate military exercises in nearby waters.


    Hours after President Lee Myung-bak's first address to the nation since the attack, authorities announced new drills -- including live-fire exercises -- on Yeonpyeong Island on Tuesday morning, and issued a warning over loudspeakers for residents to take shelter in underground bunkers. The North's artillery attack last week also wounded 18 people on an island that lies within sight of North Korean shores.


    North Korea had called the drills a violation of its territorial waters and a deliberate provocation after Pyongyang urged South Korean officials not to carry out the exercises, and has warned of a "merciless" attack if further provoked.


    Meanwhile, a nuclear-powered U.S. supercarrier and a South Korean destroyer carried out joint military exercises in the waters south of the island in a united show of force by the longtime allies. Jets roared as they took off from the carrier.


    Amid the heightened tension, classified U.S. State Department documents leaked Sunday by online whistle-blower WikiLeaks showed the United States and South Korea discussing possible scenarios for reunification of the peninsula, and American worry over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.


    Under pressure to take stronger action in dealing with the defiant North, Lee lashed out at Pyongyang.


    "Only a few meters away from where shells landed, there is a school where classes were going on," Lee said. "I am outraged by the ruthlessness of the North Korean regime, which is even indifferent to the lives of little children."


    Lee has come under withering criticism for what opponents have called lapses in South Korea's response to the attack just eight months after the sinking of a South Korean warship in nearby waters.


    In the past week, Lee has replaced his defense minister, ordered reinforcements for the 4,000 troops on Yeonpyeong and four other Yellow Sea islands, and upgraded the military rules of engagement.


    "If the North commits any additional provocations against the South, we will make sure that it pays a dear price without fail," Lee warned.


    He didn't offer specifics about what consequences the North would face, and he offered few details on what actions South Korea will take in response to last week's attack, other than promising to strengthen the military.


    On Yeonpyeong, the military has added long-range artillery guns, doubling the amount of K-9 howitzers to 12, and multiple rocket launchers, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing unnamed military officials.


    Minutes after the speech, North Korea issued another threat to attack South Korea and the United States, calling the allies' joint war drills "yet another grave military provocation."


    The two Koreas are required to abide by an armistice signed in 1953 at the close of their brutal, three-year war.


    However, North Korea does not recognize the maritime border drawn by the U.N. at the close of the war, and considers the waters around Yeonpyeong Island its territory.
    The waters have been the site of three deadly skirmishes since 1999, as well as the sinking of the Cheonan warship in March that killed 46 sailors and last week's artillery attack.


    Yeonpyeong Island, normally home to about 1,300 civilian residents, was declared a special security area Monday, which could pave the way for a forced evacuation the 300 residents, journalists and officials still left on the island.


    Military trucks carrying what appeared to be multiple rocket launchers were seen heading to a marine base on the island Monday.


    Artillery rounds will be fired into the waters southwest of Yeonpyeong Island, not toward North Korea, an official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday. He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.


    China, North Korea's only major ally, has sought to calm tensions.


    Beijing's top nuclear envoy, Wu Dawei, called Sunday for an emergency meeting in early December among regional powers involved in nuclear disarmament talks, including North Korea.


    Seoul, which wants proof of Pyongyang's commitment to denuclearization as well as a show of regret over the Cheonan incident, gave a cool response to the proposal.


    Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan again condemned North Korea's deadly artillery barrage Monday, calling the attack on civilians "a barbaric act." He said Tokyo would cooperate with Seoul and Washington on how to counter North Korea's "reckless" acts.


    The documents leaked by WikiLeaks showed deep U.S. worries about North Korean and Iranian cooperation on their rogue nuclear programs.


    The New York Times published documents that indicated the United States and South Korea were "gaming out an eventual collapse of North Korea" and discussing the prospects for a unified country, if the North's economic troubles and political transition lead it to implode.
    ------
    AP photographers David Guttenfelder and Lee Jin-man on Yeonpyeong Island and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.
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