November 28, 2010
North Korea upped the ante on Sunday as South Korea and the United States conduct military exercises described as a show of force in response to North Korea’s artillery bombing of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island last week.
North Korea’s missiles “appear to be targeting our fighter jets that fly near the Northern Limit Line (NLL),” a source told the Yonhap New Agency. The Soviet-designed SA-2 missile has a range of between 13 and 30 kilometers. “The military is preparing for the possibility of further provocations as the North Korean military has deployed firepower near the NLL and is preparing to fire,” the source said.
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Other missiles on the North Korean west coast, such as the Samlet and Silkworm with ranges of up to 95km, have also been put onto launch pads, the source said.
The Hoguk series of exercises that began earlier this month in South Korea include 70,000 South Korean troops. Exercises built around the USS George Washington carrier battle group in the Yellow Sea began Sunday. The Pentagon claims both sets of exercises are built around deterrence and are in response to the sinking of the Cheonan.
In August, the Obama administration used the Cheonan incident as a pretext to impose additional economic sanctions on North Korea. On May 20, South Korea officially blamed North Korea for the sinking of its warship in March. Investigators from Australia, Britain, Sweden and the United States arrived at the conclusion that North Korea sunk the vessel with a torpedo. Investigators said the torpedo was likely of German manufacture.
“There are suspicions that the US Navy SEALS maintains a sampling of European torpedoes for sake of plausible deniability for false flag attacks,” investigative journalist Wayne Madsen wrote in May. “Also, Berlin does not sell torpedoes to North Korea, however, Germany does maintain a close joint submarine and submarine weapons development program with Israel.”
China has called for emergency talks between North and South Korea in a bid to avoid a possible military conflict. China is North Korea’s most important ally, primary trading partner, and main source of food, arms, and fuel.
Special envoy for Korea Wu Dawei told journalists that Beijing was proposing that chief negotiators from North and South Korea, the US, China, Japan and Russia should meet early December in Beijing. Wu Dawei said the talks would not be a resumption of the six-party dialogue, focussed on the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear program, which came to a halt last April. South Korea responded skeptically to China’s call for negotiations.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN over the weekend that North Korea’s dictator Kim Jung-il “is consistently destabilizing and is only predictable in his unpredictability. He galvanizes everyone around with the potential that they could go to war with South Korea,” the American Forces Press Service reports.
On Sunday, Arizona senator and former presidential candidate John McCain said the situation between North and South Korea presents an opportunity to take down the regime in North Korea. “I think it’s time we talked about regime change in North Korea,” he said, adding that he did not mean “military action.” McCain did not speculate how regime change would occur in North Korea without military involvement.
North Korea is the most militarized country in the world and has the fourth largest army in the world consisting of around 1,106,000 armed personnel, with about 20% of men ages 17–54 in the regular armed forces.
Also on Sunday, leaders in the U.S. Senate supported the military exercises with South Korea. “You don’t flinch,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said on Fox News Sunday about the response of the United States to North Korea. Graham is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.