Monday, 29 April 2013

War cries and threats from North Korea keep the world guessing

War cries and threats from North Korea keep the world guessing

By Sangeeta Saxena

New Delhi. A paranoid rhetoric and idiosyncratic nature of North Korea’s diplomacy
has made the world take cognizance of it’s threats of a nuclear attack. There is a visible spurt in diplomatic activities of world leaders, trying to find ways to prevent North Korea from launching an attack on South Korea. An enemy it loves to love and hate at the same time.

North Korea's policy continues to exert significant influence on the security situation in the Korean Peninsula, North-East Asia, and Asia-Pacific Region (APR) as a whole.
Seoul, Washington and Tokyo, it’s historic enemies have been waiting to see the country’s rapid and inevitable collapse as a result of economic sanctions, international isolation and internal instability but in vain.

But a sudden change in what is an age old foreign policy, old friend China seems to be  rethinking on its policy toward  North Korea. And this has made the troubled world look up. President Xi Jinping stated that no country should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain.  He didn't name North Korea in as many words but it was clear who he was referring to. Earlier, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi had told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that Beijing would not allow troublemaking on China's doorstep. So is a long time ally changing sides? A hypothesis that China is loosing patience with Pyongyang is good news for the rest of the world.

Interestingly Russia who was also a great friend of North Korea has a calculating and pragmatic approach. In just the last five years, Russia-North Korea relations have reached an unprecedented level. And it’s silence during the current crisis created by North Korea speaks volumes. Officially Moscow condemned North Korea's missile launch in December 12, 2012, but continued to oppose tougher action against Pyongyang.Will this soft stand be a hindrance in getting stability in the Korean peninsula?

US which has been mustering support from the world to make a formidable front against North Korea, fears a war between the two Koreas but doesn’t expect an attack on US bases. Pentagon’s assessment is that North Korea has not yet mastered the technology needed to accurately fire a nuclear-armed missile at the US mainland or any of its bases in the Pacific. The Obama administration's official policy of strategic patience towards North Korea showed a little impatience when the new defence secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the B-2, the Stealth bomber, over the Korean peninsula for the first time. Invisible to radar and with a nuclear capacity America decided to throw the weight of it’s defence superiority over Korea which has been flexing it’s muscles for the last two months.

On February 12, North Korea confirmed that it had conducted its third nuclear test. It was the test of a small plutonium bomb at an underground facility and the resulting tremors were detected relatively quickly by neighboring countries. On March 7, United Nations voted to impose harsh additional sanctions and China signed on to the resolution to the displeasure of  North Korea. North Korea announced on March 11 that it had "scrapped" the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War. On April 2, North Korea said that it would restart its Yongbyon nuclear facilities. On April 4, the government moved a missile to its east coast, concerning Japan. The next day, North Korea warned foreign embassies that they may need to evacuate soon, saying that they will be "unable to guarantee" their safety after April 10. This chronology of events has made the world brainstorm on how to check the errant child.

"Our retaliatory action will start without any notice from now," Pyongyang said in a statement published Tuesday by its official news agency, KCNA.
North Korea said it was responding to what it called insults from the "puppet authorities" in the South, claiming that there had been a rally against North Korea in Seoul.
It called the rally a "monstrous criminal act."

Pyongyang is repeating it’s old show the world has seen many times before, but this time it's played in high decibles. North Korea's Kim Jong Un, the world's youngest head of state at thirty,  is in a Confucian society where age is respected. Is this his way of telling his country that he can keep an upper hand in the polity of the region and the world? Of course, the circumstances that led Kim Jong-un to power at such a young age are a great challenge both for him and the country. The significance of help from his father’s old guard should not be underestimated, particularly in the early years of his rule. Even under world pressure it will be difficult for him to back down from his threats without losing face. He will need to act in order to maintain his domestic standing and hence will take limited action and launch small offensives. So will it be a case of barking dogs seldom bite?