Washington Post – North Korea warned Monday that U.S.-South Korean cooperation could bring a nuclear war to the region, as the South began artillery drills amid lingering tension nearly three weeks after the North’s deadly shelling of a South Korean island.
A South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff officer tried to play down the significance of this week’s drills, saying they are part of routine military exercises and would not occur near the disputed western Korean sea border where last month’s attack took place. The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of office policy, gave no further details.
North Korea, however, lashed out at Seoul, accusing South Korea of collaborating with the United States and Japan to ratchet up pressure on Pyongyang.
That cooperation “is nothing but treachery escalating the tension between the North and the South and bringing the dark clouds of a nuclear war to hang over the Korean peninsula,” Pyongyang’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea has often issued similar threats during standoffs.
In a show of unity, top diplomats from South Korea, the United States and Japan met in Washington last week and said they would not resume negotiations aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program until the country’s behavior changes. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited South Korea last week and warned Pyongyang to stop its “belligerent, reckless behavior.”
The confrontation between the Koreas is likely to generate more support in Japan for developing nuclear weapons, says Kazuhiro Araki, a professor of international relations at Takushoku University. Japan should consider developing nuclear weapons because of the “urgent circumstances.”
The creation of a ‘dynamic defence capability’ is an inevitable response to growing threats from North Korea and China. Japan is expected to adopt a more “dynamic” forward-leaning military posture, involving sophisticated new weaponry, mobile rapid-response units and closer security alliances with friendly countries, as part of a sweeping strategic defence review focused on real or potential threats from China and North Korea.
Although the shift towards a more assertive military stance has been under discussion in Tokyo for some time, an angry maritime confrontation with China in September and the recent North Korean attack on South Korean territory have lent urgency to discussions on how to deal with the challenges both countries pose to Japan.
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