North and South Korea at brink of war?

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Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2008 9:41 pm

PostSat Oct 18, 2008 11:26 pm » by Harlekin

Sat Oct 18, 2008 4:18am EDT

N.Korean diplomats await "important message": report

TOKYO (Reuters) - North Korean diplomats have been told to stick close to their embassies and await "an important message," Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported on Saturday.

Multiple unidentified sources "connected with the issue" said the order appeared to have been conveyed to the diplomats within the past several days, the paper added.

The sources gave no further details but said the message could deal with relations between the two Koreas or the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Kim's health has been the subject of speculation after U.S. and South Korean officials said he may have suffered a stroke in August.

South Korea's National Intelligence Service said it was checking the report.

On Thursday, North Korea threatened to end all relations with South Korea, a major source of aid and cash, in anger at the hardline policies of its conservative president.

Pyongyang's threat to cut ties with the South came days after it pledged to resume taking apart a nuclear plant that makes bomb-grade plutonium.

Its decision to return to a disarmament deal followed Washington's move to take the reclusive state off its terrorism blacklist, removing some trade sanctions.

The North has been angry at South Korean President Lee Myung-bak since he took office in February and pledged to cut off what once had been largely unconditional aid.

Analysts said the North, which often employs pressure tactics, may be moving now because it feels it has gained leverage through the nuclear agreement.

A sharp increase in tension between the two Koreas could cause problems for the South by increasing its perceived political risk and making it more expensive for its companies to raise funds internationally at a time when the economy is already wobbling from the impact of global financial turmoil.

The nuclear compromise and the threats to Seoul come as questions have been raised over how decisions are now being made in the North after U.S. and South Korean officials raised fears about Kim's health.

Kim's health and his whereabouts are the among the North's most tightly guarded secrets.

Known at home as the "Dear Leader," Kim has failed to appear at a number of the high-profile ceremonies in recent months.

State media last week moved to dispel rumors he was gravely ill, reporting he had attended a soccer match, and broadcasting pictures of him inspecting a women's military unit. South Korean media said the pictures may have been several months old. ... dChannel=0

OCTOBER 18, 2008 09:12

U.S. Pledges Prompt Military Aid to S. Korea

After the 40th Security Consultative Meeting in Washington yesterday, the defense chiefs of South Korea and the United States issued a joint statement containing a U.S. pledge to promptly dispatch forces to the Korean Peninsula in case of war.

The two sides also agreed to have U.S. troops transfer 49 percent of their war reserves stockpile for allies to Korean forces.

The joint statement by Defense Minister Rhee Sang-hee and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that Washington will promptly offer an appropriate level of reinforcement in the event of emergency on the Korean Peninsula.

This is the first time that the meeting’s joint statement pledges quick reinforcement deployment by U.S. forces. A similar promise, however, was made in a mutual defense treaty.

“The U.S. made it clear that its security assurances on the Korean Peninsula remain intact regardless of the transfer of wartime operational control to Korean forces in April 2012,” a Defense Ministry official said. “The U.S. will provide sufficient military reinforcement (in case of war) to Korea. The size of reinforcement stated in the existing bilateral agreement will hardly change.”

Washington promised to send 690,000 troops, 160 warships and 2,000 airplanes under the existing agreement. Rhee and Gates also reportedly had in-depth discussions on military measures in response to various contingencies on the peninsula, such as North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s transfer of power due to poor health.

The positive outcome of the bilateral defense talks could help resume the development of the joint combined war scenario, code-named OPLAN 5027, which was disbanded by the previous Roh Moo-hyun administration. ... 8101844358

Friday, October 17, 2008

Japan concerned over Chinese submarines near maritime borders

TOKYO, October 17 (RIA Novosti) - Chinese submarines have recently increased their activity near Japan's maritime borders in the East China Sea, a Japanese military source said on Friday.

According to the source, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force detected the presence of a Chinese Han-class nuclear-powered submarine and a Song-class diesel attack submarine in the region as the U.S. George Washington nuclear aircraft carrier was heading to the South Korean port of Pusan on a friendly visit.

The USS George Washington is stationed at a U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, Japan.

The source said the Chinese submarines did not violate Japanese territorial waters, but described their activities as attempts "to gather data on noise signatures emitted by all automated systems of the U.S. aircraft carrier" and "some sort of intimidation."

In response to the Chinese moves, Tokyo and Washington increased the number of patrol flights by Japan's P-3C Orion ASW aircraft and deployed additional U.S. reconnaissance satellite assets to monitor the area.

The Chinese Navy's submarine fleet includes at least two nuclear-powered attack submarines, and its 13 Song-class submarines are extremely quiet and difficult to detect when running on electric motors.

In October 2006, an undetected Chinese Song-class submarine popped up in the middle of a U.S. task force during an exercise in the Pacific at the distance of only 5 miles from the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier.

The Chinese vessel slipped past at least a dozen other American warships which were supposed to protect the carrier from hostile aircraft or submarines.


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