ForexTV NewsDesk | February 14 2013 2:36 EST
ForexTV.com (New York) by Kaveh Eslampour
The incoming leadership of South Korea demonstrated their country’s military might Thursday, in an effort to rebuke North Korea’s third nuclear test. With every action from Pyongyang and Seoul viewed as a provocation, the standoff continues to escalate.
In December, North Korea launched a satellite widely condemned as a cover for developing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) capable of reaching North America. The United Nations Security Council responded by with new sanctions on the North Korean regime, which retaliated Tuesday with an underground test of their nuclear capabilities.
According to the state-run newspaper Rodong, Pyongyang considered the sanctions subjugation “not […] against our nuclear weapons or satellites, but against our sovereignty.” The commentary published Thursday typifies the North’s hostilities towards the Washington-led international sanctions, claiming self defense forced them to “target against the US.”
Brash declarations against South Korea and the United States is nothing new for Pyongyang, but open declarations of their intention to build ICBMs, potentially tipped with nuclear warheads, is an alarming development. “We no longer hide but publicly declare: If the imperialists have nuclear weapons, we must have them, and if they have intercontinental ballistic missiles, we must have them, too.”
Despite violating a ban on missile related technology, commentary in Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency declared “no one has the right to take issue with it as it is the legitimate step for self-defense in full conformity with the U.N. Charter.” The nuclear test was expected by analysts, considering North Korea warned the UN that new sanctions would provoke “second and third measures of greater intensity” that could spark an “all-out war.”
President-elect Park Geun-hye responded by saying North Korea’s leadership would not gain from “even a fourth or fifth nuclear test.” She remarked, “If they waste their national power pursuing nuclear weapons, it will lead to their self-destruction. The collapse of the Soviet Union was not because they didn't have nuclear weapons."
Ms. Park was elected in December on a campaign that avoided the normal saber-rattling of Korean brinksmanship, promising “trust-building” exercises with North Korea’s leadership if they were willing to open to engagement. She cautioned that “if North Korea pours cold water on the idea, they should recognize that we cannot carry out our trust process.”
The Park administration, scheduled to be assume office February 25th, named former deputy commander of the combined South Korea-U.S. forces, retired Gen. Kim Byung-kwan as South Korea’s next defense minister. In a statement to local news media, Mr. Kim announced Seoul’s “priority […] to prepare for a possible new provocation from the North in the wake of its third nuclear test."
With a nearly unanimous vote Thursday, South Korean parliament approved a resolution condemning North Koreas military tests and responded with one of their own.
The South Korean navy deployed destroyers and submarines off its eastern and western coasts this week, and promised additional measures. Live-fire drills utilizing rockets and artillery near the land border with North Korea are scheduled to begin Friday.
Today, South Korea’s Defense Ministry released a 50-second long clip that showed two cruise missiles, capable of traveling roughly 600 miles, being launched from a submarine and blasting their intended targets. A ministry spokesperson boasted that the “cruise missile shown today is a precision-guided weapon so accurate that it can be directed to smash through the window of a North Korean command post from anywhere on the Korean Peninsula.”
At the same time, South Korea and the United States deployed jet fighters in an air drill to improve communications. The US maintains 28,500 military personnel in South Korea to repel an attack from the north, and as part of a wider effort to add teeth to American’s nonproliferation strategy.
In a statement, newly confirmed Secretary of State John Kerry promoted a “swift, clear, strong and credible response” to North Korea’s latest nuclear test. He added, “What our response is with respect to this will have an impact on all other nonproliferation efforts.” The concern in Washington is that Iran and others will be emboldened by North Korea’s defiance of international standards on nuclear weapons and ICMBs.
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