The United States and South Korea kicked off a two-week war game Monday amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The "Key Resolve" exercise, which involves 10,000 South Korean and 3,500 US troops, has provoked a strong response from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), which on the same day severed the communication hotline with Seoul and nullified the armistice halting the 1950-53 Korean War.
For years, the situation on the Korean Peninsula has experienced periods of both improvement and relapse, like a chronic disease with no quick medication.
The underlying cause of the long-running crisis is the simmering feud between Pyongyang and Washington, whose failed policies toward the DPRK have exhausted the already scarce mutual trust and dragged the situation into a reinforcing loop of misunderstanding and animosity.
The United States, along with its allies, has been pressing for tougher sanctions against the DPRK, taking them as an effective way to resolve the Korean Peninsula crisis.
However, the recent flare-up of tension has once again laid bare the ineffectiveness of the US punishment-dominated approach in its dealing with Pyongyang.
Sanctions will not resolve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. The only viable way to reduce tensions is to hold negotiations and address the concerns of all parties in a comprehensive and balanced way.
With the peace process on the Korean Peninsula left in disarray, more efforts are needed to remove suspicion and hostility through candid and direct talks with all the relevant parties involved.
For the DPRK, the Feb. 12 nuclear test, a defiant move deeply rooted in its strong sense of insecurity, ran counter to the course of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The six-party talks are the best mechanism to guarantee the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.
Other countries, mainly the United States, Japan and South Korea, are advised to forbear from any show of force. Saber-rattling will only roil the already unstable region and shove Pyongyang further away from the negotiation table.
So far, the Northeast Asian countries have been holding their breath as the situation evolves, fearing their countries might suffer collateral damage should conflict erupt.
Indeed, an exacerbating situation on the Korean Peninsula serves no one's interests in the region. Therefore, all the relevant parties, including the United States and the DPRK, had better remain cool-headed and refrain from stoking the flames, thereby preventing the fragile situation from spiraling out of control.