Playing With Fire: Possible North Korean Responses to New US-South Korea Drills

Monday, October 23, 2017
By Paul Martin

The political process to resolve the North Korean crisis has reached a stalemate and such military activities by the US as the recent joint maneuvers with South Korea risk being interpreted by Pyongyang as a signal of possible aggression, renowned Russian military analyst Vasily Kashin said.

Is Dialogue Still Possible?

“The goal of the North Korean leadership was to impose direct dialogue on the United States and reach a compromise which would restrict its nuclear development, provide security guarantees from Washington and allow for the easing of sanctions. However, the current US administration is unlikely to start direct dialogue with Pyongyang,” Kashin, who is a senior research fellow with the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Sputnik China.

At the same time, according to the analyst, mutual nuclear deterrence with Pyongyang would also be “unacceptable” for Washington since American officials have long portrayed North Korea as a “poor country ruled by madmen.”

“Any talks, except for the nuclear disarmament of North Korea, would mean serious reputational losses for the US,” Kashin added.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo recently warned that North Korea could obtain the capability of delivering a nuclear strike on the continental part of the US “within months.” Even taking into account the current sanctions against Pyongyang and their possible strengthening, North Korea is unlikely to curb its nuclear and missile ambitions. Pyongyang has said that it would talk to the US only after the development of a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is completed.

Kashin pointed out that Pyongyang apparently wants to maintain dialogue with Washington “from a position of strength,” adding that the current situation is a “deadlock” in which there is the risk of “reckless moves” by the US. One of the options on the table is a limited strike on North Korea to damage its nuclear and missile capabilities.

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