US and DPRK still in­sist on play­ing the power game

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Views - The au­thor is a re­search scholar at the School of Law, Peo­ple’s Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Uni­ver­sity of China.

As re­la­tions be­tween the United States and the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea fur­ther de­te­ri­o­rate, some East Asian coun­tries are busy strength­en­ing their mil­i­taries. At the United Na­tions fo­rum on dis­ar­ma­ment in Geneva on Tues­day, the US and the DPRK ac­cused each other of pos­ing a nu­clear threat. US en­voy Robert Wood elab­o­rated on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s top pri­or­ity: pro­tect the US and its al­lies against the “grow­ing threat” from the DPRK, for which Wash­ing­ton will use “the full range of ca­pa­bil­i­ties at our dis­posal”.

DPRK diplo­mat Ju Yong Chol, on his part, said, “as long as the US hos­tile pol­icy and nu­clear threat re­mains un­chal­lenged, the DPRK will never place its self-de­fen­sive nu­clear de­ter­rence on the ne­go­ti­at­ing table or step back an inch from the path it has taken to bol­ster the na­tional nu­clear force”. More im­por­tantly, DPRK leader Kim Jongun has re­port­edly in­structed the coun­try’s Chem­i­cal Ma­te­rial In­sti­tute of the Academy of De­fense Sci­ence to make more solid-fuel rocket en­gines and rocket war­heads.

The US and the Repub­lic of Korea, re­fus­ing to change their stance, be­gan this year’s 11-day joint mil­i­tary drill on Aug 21, to which the DPRK re­sponded with a warn­ing that the US could face “mer­ci­less re­venge”. And when Ja­panese and US for­eign and de­fense heads met in Wash­ing­ton on Aug 17, Tokyo un­veiled a plan to ac­cel­er­ate the de­ploy­ment of a land­based Aegis Ashore anti-mis­sile de­fense sys­tem to counter Py­ongyang’s mil­i­tary “provo­ca­tions”. Ja­pan al­ready uses a sea-based Aegis Ashore sys­tem, a reg­u­lar fea­ture on many US war­ships.

An Asahi Shim­bun re­port said the Ja­panese de­fense min­istry has de­cided to de­velop an anti-stealth radar sys­tem that can lo­cate bal­lis­tic mis­siles with stealth ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Work on the next-gen­er­a­tion warn­ing and con­trol sys­tem will be­gin in the next fis­cal with an ex­pected bud­get of 19.6 bil­lion yen ($177 mil­lion), and the min­istry plans to com­plete it by fis­cal 2023.

Be­sides, Ja­pan is likely to in­crease its de­fense bud­get at a faster pace in its next five-year plan, which starts in April 2019, than the 0.8 per­cent an­nual av­er­age in­crease, ac­cord­ing to the Nikkei Shim­bun.

The ROK, too, is strength­en­ing its mil­i­tary. Af­ter the DPRK test-fired its sec­ond in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile on July 28, ROK Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in or­dered the speedy de­ploy­ment of the con­tro­ver­sial US Ter­mi­nal High Al­ti­tude Area De­fense anti-mis­sile sys­tem, re­vers­ing his ear­lier de­ci­sion to sus­pend it for en­vi­ron­men­tal re­views.

And the US Depart­ment of De­fense has said it is “ac­tively” con­sid­er­ing re­vis­ing the bi­lat­eral bal­lis­tic mis­sile guide­lines with the ROK to ac­cede to the lat­ter’s re­quest to build more pow­er­ful mis­siles. The ROK has also de­ployed the US-built Pa­triot mis­sile de­fense sys­tem and, apart from the two THAAD launch­ers al­ready de­ployed, has four more in the pipe­line, pend­ing an en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view.

More­over, Moon told Trump dur­ing their tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion on Aug 7 that Seoul wants to build a nu­clear-pow­ered sub­ma­rine.

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