Millennium Post

Need for calm in Korean Peninsula

The rising tensions in the Korean Peninsula call for restraint on the part of North Korea, which has been sabre-rattling, as well as on the part of South Korea and the United States who must stay guarded in their response. North Korea has expanded on its tradition of making belligerent noises despite a change of leadership in the country. Kim Jong-un, the new powerhouse in North Korea has not brought in more restraint in this country’s behaviour. In the past several weeks, he has gone in for a nuclear test, his country’s third, and has provoked South Korea and Japan by threatening them with missile attacks. The United States on its part has not rested content with doing nothing. It has flown stealth bombers over North Korea as if to underline that if conflict was to break out this country would have a price to pay. Not to be outdone, North Korea warned last Saturday that the Korean Peninsula was entering ‘a state of war’. The two Koreas have technically remained at war for the past six decades because the 1950-53 Korean War did not conclude with a peace treaty, but with an armistice. Though a full-scale conflict is extremely unlikely, with the Korean Peninsula having remained in a technical state of war for 60 years, North Korea’s continued threats towards Seoul and Washington, including a vow to launch a nuclear strike, raise worries that a misjudgment between the sides could lead to a clash.

However, it is possible that North Korea was making threatening noises towards the new government in Seoul in order to engage it in discussions and to ensure that it reordered its policies towards the United States. It could also be a move towards internal consolidation and an attempt to rally the country behind Kim Jong-un, who has spent the past few weeks touring frontline military units, monitoring live fire artillery drills and making inflammatory speeches about wiping out the enemy. There is no evidence that he has been mobilising troops or positioning forces for an attack. The United States has, however, moved a navy missile defence ship in waters near Korea in a carefully calibrated response. Considering the prevalence of nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula, the situation must not be allowed to escalate. All sides must be responsible and none must cross the line of no return and all effort must be made to ensure that peace prevails.
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