US, NK best avoid rush to misjudgment

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/3/11 22:01:06

News is constantly released from the US and South Korea over an uptick in activities at the Sohae satellite launch facility in North Korea. According to media outlets, more vehicles were spotted moving around the site where satellite launchers are being repaired. Some US and South Korean analysts said North Korea may be preparing for a rocket launch.  

US President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would be "very disappointed" if North Korea launches a new rocket. On Sunday, US national security adviser John Bolton noted that Washington does not "have any illusions" about the possibility of North Korea resuming missile tests, but added, "I'm not going to speculate on what that commercial satellite imagery shows."

After the failed summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, new fears and anxieties over the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue have been emerging. Some analysts have suggested Pyongyang and Washington may head again toward confrontation. It is highly likely that in the future, North Korea and the US may pile more pressure on each other. But just how far they will go in this direction, it is better not to guess. 

Bolton said that the US is closely monitoring North Korea. Washington knows everything Pyongyang does. North Korea is obviously well aware of that. Perhaps North Korea would like to see the US closely monitor its every move now and interpret what it sees into something that makes Washington nervous.

But it is a hasty conclusion to think Pyongyang may resume rocket launches soon. If Washington makes the next step of planning by this judgment, it is particularly harmful.

The eased situation on the peninsula today was not easily come by. Both North Korea and the US benefit as Pyongyang avoids a US military strike and Washington rules out the strategic risk of Pyongyang further enhancing a missile capability that may threaten the US mainland. 

Neither side wants to return to the intensive confrontation situation of 2017. The possibility of solving problems through bilateral negotiations hasn't been exhausted. Abruptly resuming confrontation is risky to both Pyongyang and Washington. This should be the rational judgment: The US is much more powerful than North Korea with regard to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. If Washington has no interest in immediately re-imposing more pressure, then North Korea has even less interest. Neither side should rashly interpret the current reality as a zero-sum clash. Otherwise, such a false imagining might end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

It is important both North Korea and the US exercise restraint and jointly guard the atmosphere for negotiations. The Kim-Trump summit in Hanoi ended without a deal, but neither side expressed an aggressive attitude. This leaves room for future talks.

The US side especially must avoid the current delicate attitude toward North Korea being dictated by radical public opinion.



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