US, North Korea called to stop fuelling conflict with threats
A NUCLEAR war between North Korea and the US is not imminent, analysts said, but the inflammatory rhetoric on both sides is increasing the risk. They called on all parties to de-escalate.
North Korea’s army said yesterday it was examining a plan to use ballistic missiles to make an “enveloping fire” around Guam, a US territory that is home to Andersen Air Force Base. The statement came a day after US President Donald Trump warned North Korea against making more threats, saying: “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
A North Korean attack or an American pre-emptive strike is unlikely, said John Delury, an associate professor at Yonsei University in Seoul. He saw North Korea’s statement as a warning to Washington that its missiles could reach targets in the region, rather than one of an actual attack.
“If North Korea was planning some kind of pre-emptive or surprise attack on Guam, we would not be reading about it in North Korean media,” Delury said. “Now that said, you do need to track their threats. And there are cases where they (have) made a specific threat and carried it out.”
A US strike against North Korea would need the support of South Korea, he said, because the North would likely retaliate against the South and its 600 000 troops.
“It’s not something you can do without robust, full support from the South Korean government people, and there’s absolutely no sign that South Korea will support military options with North Korea,” he said.
Chinese scholars said Beijing is deeply concerned about the latest statements from Trump and North Korea. They hold the US partly responsible, saying Trump’s heated rhetoric is fuelling the flames.
Trump’s tough talk has contributed to an increase in animosity that is pushing the sides closer to armed conflict, said Cheng Xiaohe of the School of International Studies at Beijing’s Renmin University.
“If not kept well under control, this verbal spat could turn into a military clash,” he said, adding China should dispatch diplomats to bring the sides to the negotiating table.
Beijing agreed to recent UN sanctions, despite potential losses to Chinese firms doing business with North Korea and fears over destabilising the Pyongyang regime.
A top Chinese expert on North Korea said Pyongyang seemed to have been heartened by Washington’s failure to take firm measures in response to earlier actions.
Zhang Liangui, a professor at the ruling Communist Party’s Central Party School, said: “This might make North Korea think that’s just some verbal threat, so its attitude is getting tougher and tougher.”
The US, China and Russia need to come together to force the North to de-escalate, he said.
This July 28 photo distributed by the North Korean government shows what was said to be the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea.