North Korea threatens nuclear war in response to joint US-South Korea drills
30 January 2014, 14:51
North Korea is threatening nuclear war in response to the scheduled joint military maneuvers between the US and South Korea. North Korea's increasing opposition to the annual joint drills ("Foal Eagle") looks very similar to the reaction that preceded the start of the same exercises last year which led to a new stalemate on the Korean peninsula.
It appears the first signals of this year's political battle have already begun to appear, though some experts say they don't suppose those will be as dangerous as last year's.
This year's drills, in which troops will train on land, sea and in the air, are expected to last until about April.
Yoo Ho-yeol, a professor of North Korea studies at Korea University in South Korea, said he doesn't expect as much tension as last year.
'North Korea is maintaining its nuclear weapons program but hasn't launched any fresh provocation, so this year's drills would be more like the routine ones they conducted in previous years,' he said.
North Korean representatives said through the state-run media that the United States is building up its military forces in Asia in order to invade their country and gain control of the whole region.
The "attacks" on the exercises started earlier this month, when North Korea's powerful National Defense Commission proposed that the rivals should withhold military actions and 'mutual vilification' to maintain better relations. The North, however, emphasized it would continue its nuclear weapons program while urging South Korea to suspend the drills with the United States, scheduled for late February.
North Korea's ambassador to China, Ji Jae Ryong, offered a solution at a rare news conference on Wednesday: he suggested that North Korea reduce tensions to allow further steps toward reconciliation and cooperation between the North and the South.
'First, we propose taking preparatory measures in response to the warm call for creating an atmosphere for improving North-South ties. In this regard, we officially propose the South Korean authorities to take critical measures of halting acts of provoking and slandering the other side beginning January 30,' Mr Ji said.
However Ji Jae Ryong repeatedly indicated that North Korea had no intention of abandoning its nuclear weapons program.
Analysts assume that although some regional experts saw that North Korea's warnings were intended more as a means of setting the stage for more heated actions ahead - since the North has no reason to expect that the US would seriously consider stopping the "Foal Eagle" program.
Seoul and Washington have ignored North Korea's demands.
Seoul officials offered North Korea to take 'practical' action for nuclear disarmament if the latter truly wants peace on the peninsula.
The struggle between North and South Korea ended six decades ago with an armistice, not a peace treaty, technically leaving the peninsula in a state of war. North Korea remains highly sensitive to all military activity in the South, and sees Seoul as an American "puppet state" as nearly 30,000 US troops are based on its soil.
Voice of Russia, the Guardian
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