Increased tension on the Korean Peninsula

(VOVworld)- The Korean Peninsula has once again drawn the international community’s attention following recent developments in North Korea and a number of other countries. These developments have heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula.
Increased tension on the Korean Peninsula - ảnh 1
South Korean soldiers attend an anti-terrorism drill in Daegu, southeast of Seoul, as a part of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) military exercise of South Korea and U.S. forces. File photo. © South Korean Air Force / Reuters

On 17 August, the spokesperson for the South Korean Unification Ministry Jeong Joo-hee said North Korea’s Deputy Ambassador to the UK Thae Yong Ho, had defected to South Korea. Thae Young Ho was the highest ranking diplomat to defect to South Korea. The same day, North Korea’s Atomic Energy Institute said North Korea had reprocessed spent nuclear fuel rods removed from a graphite-moderated reactor to serve plutonium production. The Atomic Energy Institute also added that Pyongyang had also been manufacturing the highly enriched uranium required for nuclear arms and power production as scheduled.  The next day, a report revealed that North Korea has built three anti-air artillery bases outside Pyongyang in an effort to defend its capital city and military compounds. According to Curtis Melvin, a researcher at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, the expansion of the anti-aircraft artillery bases demonstrates that of Kim Jong Un's government will develop not only its nuclear arsenal but also its conventional weapons.

In its latest announcement on 22 August, North Korea threatened to turn Seoul and Washington into “a heap of ashes through a Korean-style pre-emptive nuclear strike” if they showed any signs of aggression toward the North’s territory during their annual military drills, known as “Ulchi Freedom Guardian”. An English-language statement by the General Staff of the North Korea’s Korean People's Army (KPA), said the combined first-strike units of the KPA keep themselves fully ready to mount a preemptive retaliatory strike at all enemy attack groups involved in Ulchi Freedom Guardian. The statement claimed that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is so tense that a nuclear war might break out at any moment.

North Korea’s recent moves have received strong reactions from the US, South Korea, and Japan. The spokesman for the US State Department Mark Toner said if reports on Pyongyang’s plutonium production are correct, it is obviously a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions, which prohibit such activities. Washington called on Pyongyang to avoid exacerbating tensions in the region and to implement its international obligations on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Mr. Toner said that the US would protect its allies including South Korea and Japan. South Korean President Park Geun Hye said any attempt to threaten South Korea and its people will never be successful.  The spokesperson for South Korea’s Defense Ministry Moon Sang Gyun said Seoul planned to work closely with relevant countries and international organizations to seek ways to cope with the North’s resumption of plutonium production. Japan has set up a system to regularly monitor the satellite systems of other countries to cope with North Korea’s missile provocation. Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said Japan Self-Defense Force is ready to shoot down possible missiles from North Korea at any time. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have never subsided but recent developments on the peninsula have worried the public.