Can war be prevented on Korean Peninsula?

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/5 23:18:41

The chain reactions triggered by the latest North Korean nuclear test are brewing, which will further drag the North Korean nuclear issue into deadlock.

The sanctions imposed by the international community have proved somewhat effective; however sanctions cannot shake Pyongyang's determination to possess nuclear weapons in the current geopolitical climate. As long as Pyongyang feels a sense of insecurity, it would rather "eat grass" than suspend its nuclear weapons program, as Russian President Vladimir Putin put it on Tuesday.

Therefore, resolving the North Korean nuclear issue requires cooperation from the US and South Korea, who should offer Pyongyang a sense of security. When Washington completely refuses to decrease its military pressure on Pyongyang, there is little possibility that the latter will stop its nuclear and missile activities.

As there is apparently no solution in sight to the crisis, Washington could be more prone to take military action against Pyongyang, which in turn may lead to more radical countermeasures from Pyongyang, pushing the situation toward boiling point. Then will war break out?

As long as Pyongyang retains a sense of rationality, it won't launch a pre-emptive attack on the US or South Korea, because Pyongyang will not be able to withstand the retaliation.

With the advance of North Korea's nuclear technologies, the US' motivation to carry out a military strike against North Korea will be stronger and stronger, but whether Washington will turn its will into real action depends on the role of Seoul.

Even if Seoul prevents Washington from taking military risks, the situation on the Korean Peninsula will not return to normal. Under rounds of sanctions, North Korea has suffered severe economic difficulties and international isolation, such that it can hardly operate normally. If Pyongyang does not get a satisfactory solution to its problems, it will take provocative actions once in a while to attract attention from the international community.

With nothing left but nuclear weapons, Pyongyang will persist until its status as a nuclear state is recognized, so it can return to the international community with nuclear weapons.

But the international community can hardly accept such a scenario, as this indicates the invalidity of the nuclear non-proliferation principle and a reshuffle of the Northeast Asian geopolitical pattern. None of the major powers and regional countries would like to see such a situation. This is less likely than a war on the Korean Peninsula.

It is where the dilemma of the situation lies: North Korea will not give up its nuclear ambitions in the short term, and the international community will not accept it having a nuclear capability. Such a scenario cannot be sustained. There is less and less room for maneuver.

There is a slight possibility that when the risk of war is too much for all stakeholders to bear, they may resort to compromise. We've seen that South Korea has changed attitude recently. Seoul indicated that it strongly opposes war in the Korean Peninsula and demanded the crisis to be resolved peacefully. Cracks seem to be appearing in the Washington-Seoul alliance.

If the conundrum continues, North Korea will be the one that suffers most. If war breaks out, South Korea will be one of the biggest victims. No matter the circumstances, the US will be among those who would bear the least consequences.

Therefore, Washington has no incentive to solve this crisis in a way that doesn't fit its national interests. Such a motivation can only be inspired through the efforts of South Korea. If Seoul goes along its current path, it may eventually become the victim of a new war on the peninsula.

After breakthroughs in its nuclear and missile technology, Pyongyang has become all the more confident. But as the US, the world's No.1 nuclear power, cannot intimidate North Korea, how can North Korea, with limited nuclear capability, intimidate the US? Pyongyang must think about this logic.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

blog comments powered by Disqus