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‘U.S. troops all have to be ready'

Posted December. 25, 2017 07:36,   

Updated December. 25, 2017 07:52


U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said, “Storm clouds are gathering over the Korean Peninsula and the U.S. troops all have to be ready to go in to war on Korean Peninsula.” Visiting the 82nd Airborne Division (U.S. time) on Friday, Mattis made the remarks, adding that there is still time to seek diplomatic solution, but there is little reason to think positively. Mattis’ remarks came soon after the U.N. Security Council adopted a strengthened resolution banning export of oil products into North Korea including halting of 90 percent of refined oil shipment to the North. The United Nations has sent a stern warning against Kim Jong Un’s provocation of brinkmanship at a time when the international community is increasing pressure on Pyongyang.

Mattis, who is in charge of Washington’s military strategy, displayed a very cautious stance on military measure. However he has frequently mentioned “situation after diplomatic solutions fail” recently, and made remarks of stern warnings including “the worst day in the history of North Korea.” Although he has said “I don’t think it is at that point yet to evacuate families of U.S. troops in South Korea, he noted Washington has a contingency plan to evacuate them in a short period of time.

Despite such warnings, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has shown no signs of intention to change its attitude. In the closing ceremony of the regional chapter leaders of its ruling Workers’ Party on Saturday, Kim said, “We will stage bold and large scale operations.” He is thus using tactic to shift an internal crisis to an external crisis by threatening a bold provocation. Since declaring “completion of nuclear armament” late last month, Kim Jong Un is apparently focusing on a propaganda war to strengthen internal solidarity, but Pyongyang can take a reckless brinkmanship tactic if it is cornered again. “Bold and grand scale operation” that Kim has warned could come as a provocation that is a war-like situation including nuclear attacks around Guam. On the U.N.’s latest resolution, the North Korean defense ministry also said on Sunday, “The U.N. sanctions constitutes infringement of self-defense right and an act of war. We will stubbornly continue to strengthen our self-defensive nuclear deterrence.”

With Washington having set March in 2018 as its deadline for resolving the North’s nuclear crisis, rising tension on the Korean Peninsula could be a development, which is inevitable. Ahead of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, in particular, there is also a high chance that Pyongyang will take a provocative action. However, Washington still prefers diplomatic solution and will continue to display its patience at least through the Olympic Games in early 2018. As Mattis said Kim Jong Un would not be stupid enough to launch a terror attack or other provocation and start war against Pyongyang. War effectively means its extinction to North Korea. Kim Jong Un should respond to overtures for dialogue before Washington’s patience runs dry.