North Korean Tensions Escalate

Tensions on the Korean peninsula continue to escalate in the aftermath of the February nuclear tests by North Korea. North Korea has announced plans to restart a nuclear reactor that was shut down in 2007 as part of an international aid deal. In the past week, the U.S. has sent B-52s, B-2s, and F-22s over South Korea in recent annual military drills as a show of force. Additionally, the U.S. has positioned two guided missile destroyers in South Korean waters.

The U.S. Government has also announced plans to deploy a THAAD missile defense system in Guam, partly in response to the growing North Korean threat. The system won’t reach all the way to South Korea, but is aimed at protecting U.S. interests in Guam and Hawaii.

North Korea is moving an intermediate ranged missile to its east coast. Most believe this is in preparation for the celebration of their founder Kim Il Sung’s birthday, when they might test the missile. The move has raised concerns in Japan, which is in the missiles path and is within its range. The trajectory over Japan is the closest path to the open Pacific. This resembles 2006, when North Korea launched seven missiles over the Sea of Japan.

Additionally, for the second straight day North Korea has closed off access to a factory complex that is a joint venture between the North and South. The complex is located just north of the border, and South Koreans are being denied entry. Those already in the plant are not being allowed to return. South Korean officials are planning contingency plans in the event of a hostage situation, but thus far no such situation is expected.

Additional Resources

The Wall Street Journal, U.S. Dials Back on Korean Show of Force: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324100904578400833997420280.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsTop

The Wall Street Journal, With an Eye on Pyongyang, U.S. Sending Missile Defenses to Guam: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323916304578400700347158398.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsTop

The Washington Post, SKorea: North Moved Missile with ‘Considerable Range’ to Coast, but No Signs of Major Conflict: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/ratcheting-up-rhetoric-nkorean-army-warns-military-cleared-to-wage-nuclear-attack-on-us/2013/04/03/96f78882-9cbd-11e2-9219-51eb8387e8f1_story.html?hpid=z2

 

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