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User Name: abdulruff
Full Name: Dr.Abdul Ruff Colachal
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Clash of the Koreans:  Joint military exercises with USA annoy Pyongyang






America, the inventor of joint military exercises along with the NATO allies, in order to threaten its foes during the so-called cold war era, continues to employ some terror technique as the most effective tool cum strategy to threaten its foes globally.

Following the blackmail footsteps of unilateral US tactics, many other nations, including third world nations, undertake same terror technique to terrorize the weaker nations. Big nations sell weapons to these weak ones, escalating the tensions in every region. 

Recently, South Korea and the USA announced that their annual military drills will take place from 24 February to 18 April, despite anger from North Korea. Pyongyang warned against the planned drills last week, calling them "exercises of war". North Korea's top military body threatened last week to cancel planned family reunions with the South if the joint military exercises went ahead. The reunions are for family members separated when the Korean peninsula was partitioned at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. However, the North has been accused of using them as a bargaining chip.

Annual US-South Korea joint military exercise generally runs between February and March, ’Involving around 10,000 US troops and their South Korean counterparts’ It is believed to include ground, air, naval, expeditionary and special operations training exercises

Last year, the exercises led to a prolonged surge in tensions, with North Korea threatening pre-emptive nuclear strikes and cutting a military hotline with the South.

Following the abrupt cancellation last week of planned talks in Seoul between the two Koreas - what would have been the first formal bilateral ministerial negotiations since 2007 - it remains unclear what the prospects are for an improvement in ties. Ostensibly, the talks foundered on the failure of the two sides to agree on the status of their respective delegation heads, but it is possible that Pyongyang was never serious about a meeting, simply using the offer of talks to demonstrate to China, its key political and economic patron, that it had adopted a more moderate posture.

Apparent moderation in this context may have been designed to offset efforts by Beijing and Washington at the recent Obama-Xi summit to pressure the North to give up its nuclear weapons. If this were the intention, the North has failed to achieve its goal.

South Korean defence ministry said North Korea is well aware that the South Korean-US drills are annual trainings defensive in nature." "So it is not appropriate to link [the drills] with family reunions." Separately, the US said it was "deeply disappointed" North Korea had decided to withdraw its invitation to US envoy Robert King for talks on jailed US citizen Kenneth Bae. The military exercises were "in no way linked to Bae's case", State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. "We again call on the DPRK, North Korea to grant Bae special amnesty and immediate release as a humanitarian gesture," she added.

Meanwhile, the USA said it was disappointed that the North rescinded an invitation to a US envoy to discuss the release of a jailed US citizen. Kenneth Bae has been held in North Korea for more than a year. Bae, a Korean-American, was arrested in North Korea in November 2012. Pyongyang said he used his tourism business to form groups to overthrow the government, and sentenced to 15 years' hard labour in May. Bae is currently believed to be in a labour camp. North Korea cancelled a request from King to visit last August to discuss Bae. His family says he has several health complaints including diabetes and liver problems. US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has offered to travel to North Korea for talks instead, Ms Psaki said.

In recent months North Korea has conducted its third nuclear test, threatened attacks on regional targets, offered and then scrapped high-level talks with Seoul

The North has used the spectre of hostilities on the peninsula to try to force the Obama regime to agree to direct talks” Since the North's test last December of a medium-range ballistic missile and its February detonation of a third nuclear device, it has become clear that Pyongyang - at least in terms of its weapons capabilities - represents an ever-increasing threat to regional and international security.

Most technical specialists assume that it is some three to five years away from its missile and nuclear programs to allow it to deploy a nuclear warhead on a medium-range missile capable of reaching US bases in Japan, Guam and possibly the west coast of America.

North Korea's enhancement of its military assets may be a defensive move to bolster its deterrence capabilities to counter what it views as a hostile USA and its South Korean "puppet" ally. However, the North's unusually belligerent rhetoric, and its high profile deployment of its military assets in March and April, suggests a more intentionally provocative stance.

The influence of former leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il is still keenly felt in North Korea. Firstly, fostering a sense of crisis with the outside world is a means of creating unity at home, thereby reinforcing the legitimacy and status of the North's young and relatively untested leader Kim Jong-un. Since his accession to power following the death of his father Kim Jong-il in December 2011, Kim Jong-un has consolidated his control over the key party, state and military institutions.  North Korea relies on foreign aid to feed millions of its people

Secondly, deliberately raising the prospect of war on the peninsula may be, in the view of Andrei Lankov, a form of extortion. The threats could be designed to secure economic and humanitarian assistance from the international community in return for a moderation of the North's belligerent posture. Historically, Pyongyang has used such pressure tactics to test the resolve of new presidents when they assume office in South Korea. However, this approach seems to have failed, the new South Korean President Park Geun-hye has managed the current crisis to calm resilience of the populace in the face of the North's repeated provocations.

Pyongyang tried to justify breaching the terms of past agreements, whether by suspending direct lines of communication with the South or reactivating its suspended plutonium and uranium-reprocessing facilities at Yongbyon. The latter is especially important since it will give the North the necessary time, once these facilities become active again, to expand its stockpile of fissile materials, allowing it to increase its arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Pyongyang might try to force the Obama administration to agree to direct talks not merely on the nuclear question, but on a wider set of issues. These include encompassing a formal peace treaty to end the Korean War (suspended at present by the armistice agreement of 1953), political recognition through the establishment of formal diplomatic relations with the US, provision of economic assistance and the advancement of formal trade and investment opportunities.


But Washington remains opposed to such all-encompassing talks, and have made it clear repeatedly that any discussions are conditional on the North initially complying with its existing obligations to freeze and ultimately dismantle its nuclear program. The Obama administration shows little willingness to depart substantively from its longstanding de facto policy of strategic patience towards the North. Additionally, Obama continues to view international sanctions as a vital tool. In this regard, the US has recently secured valuable additional support from China. Beijing has closed the accounts of North Korea's key Foreign Trade Bank. Economic incentives are potentially equally important and here Japan may be an unexpected and important catalyst for change.

Relations between Tokyo and Seoul have been undermined by persistent disagreements over historical and territorial issues. For the immediate future, the prospects for a major breakthrough in the standoff with North Korea are relatively poor. Japan PM Abe's personal envoy, Isao Iijima, visited Pyongyang in late May to talk about the unresolved fate of Japanese citizens abducted by the North in the 1970s and 1980s. Progress in resolving this longstanding issue would open the door, in principle, to bilateral normalisation between Japan and North Korea, and a financial settlement of some $5-10bn that would be hugely advantageous to the North's sclerotic economy and might persuade Kim Jong-un to compromise materially on the nuclear issue.

Beijing and Washington are firmly on the same page in calling for the North to denuclearize. They have both upheld international sanctions to prevent Pyongyang from proliferating and made clear that the North's nuclear weapons program is incompatible with the its economic development goals.  Newly intensified pressure from China may help to impress on Pyongyang the need for a change of course.

The best hope for progress may rest with South Korea, where the Ministry of Unification - the key bureaucratic actor responsible for dialogue with the North - has maintained a moderate, pragmatic posture in the hope of keeping the door open for future talks. The forthcoming meeting of the Asean regional forum in early July in Brunei will be attended by both senior North and South Korean officials and may provide a venue for renewed dialogue.

Washington views that North Korea is likely to continue to test the patience of the international community. Looming in the background is the threat of another unanticipated provocation in the form of a missile launch or a border incident designed to raise regional anxieties and to reaffirm its historic success.

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