Rising tensions on Korean peninsula

(VOVworld) – North Korea’s missile exploded on Sunday, on the 105th birth anniversary of founder Kim Il-sung amid fierce exchanges of bitter words between Pyongyang and Washington. Many people fear the soaring tensions may turn into a destructive war. 

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North Korea's military parade on the 105th birth anniversary of founder Kim Il-sung, April 15, 2017 (Photo: EPA/VNA)

The missile test came just hours before US Vice President Mike Pence arrived in South Korea to demonstrate the US's commitment to its allies. The missile launch from the east coast failed, but raised tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Countries’ tough stance

South Korea immediately described the North’s missile test and military parade as showing off strength and threatening the world. Seoul warned of punitive measures if Pyongyang continues its provocative acts.

On April 17, while visiting South Korea, US Vice President Mike Pence said the "era of strategic patience is over" with North Korea after 2 decades, warning of US options to curb North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. He warned Pyongyang not to test the US armed forces’ will or strength, citing recent US military strikes in Syria and Afghanistan as evidence of President Trump’s “strength and resolve.” Worried about the US's heated statements, Russia said that a unilateral attack on North Korea is a risky path, expressing its hope that the US will not take any unilateral action as it did in Syria.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watched the military parade on April 15, 2017 (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Heated Korean peninsula

The Korean peninsula has many times witnessed conflicts reaching their peak. But this time rumors that war could break out are widespread. The Trump administration appears to be more aggressive than his predecessor. On April 9, the US abruptly fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian military airbase. A week later, the US dropped a 16 million USD super bomb, the US’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb, on an Islamic State target in Afghanistan. It also deployed nuclear reconnaissance aircraft and an aircraft carrier to the Korean peninsula, saying the US can deal with North Korea with or without China’s help.  In response, North Korea threatened a preemptive attack and was reported to have ordered the evacuation of a large number of people from Pyongyang to prepare for an all-out war against the US.

Tensions heightened as China deployed 150,000 troops to its border with North Korea in the event of a preemptive attack by the US. Japan made plans to evacuate its 57,000 citizens now in South Korea plus a wave of North Korean refugees fleeing to Japan. Moscow and Beijing sent warships to the East China Sea to monitor the American super carrier USS Carl Vinson.

Some analysts say the US is just testing Pyongyang’s response. North Korea’s missile program continues to advance through repeated ballistic missile tests despite global sanctions. A news source said North Korea possesses a large stockpile of chemical weapons and all nations should be cautious in their North Korea policy.