PN's Voice 112

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 112, 20.04.2017
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PN's Voice No. 112,  20. 04. 2017 
Small steps, Road to peace

A Busy Week on the Korean Peninsula as Tensions Rise

Hot on the heels of the first summit between President Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, the tension on the Korean Peninsula has been cranked up as Pyongyang and Washington have both put on a show of strength. Below is a timeline of recent events:

April 8th

After Trump publicly put pressure on China to do more to deal with North Korea and saying that the US would go about solving the North Korean problem with or without China’s help, Trump further upped the ante and put North Korea even more firmly in the US’ crosshairs. On April 8th the U.S. government announced that it was sending an armada of warships to the Korean peninsula to confront the growing threat emanating from North Korea. President Trump confirmed “"We are sending an armada, very powerful". Lt. Gen. McMaster, confirmed the reasoning for the deployment of the warships, saying it was a “prudent” step to take:

“North Korea has been engaged in a pattern of provocative behaviour...This is a rogue regime that is now a nuclear-capable regime. The president has asked to be prepared to give him a full range of options to remove that threat to the American people and to our allies and partners in the region.”

Military and intelligence officials said the timing of the ship movements was also intended to anticipate a milestone event coming up on the Korean Peninsula: the anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founder and the grandfather of the country’s current leader, Kim Jong-un. North Korea has a history of testing missiles and generally taking provocative actions during such events.

April 11th

Somewhat unsurprisingly North Korea reacted strongly to the warship deployment, saying it will defend itself "by powerful force of arms". Additionally, a number of North Korean officials released public statements in anticipation of the arrival of the U.S. warships. For example. The NK foreign ministry, quoted by state news agency KCNA, said the deployment showed "reckless moves for invading" had "reached a serious phase". "We will hold the US wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions…The DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US." Pyongyang was also quick to point out that it taken note of the US’s behaviour in the Middle East. Referencing the recent US attack on Syria, an official statement from North Korea read “This is the lesson shown by the reality of the countries in the Middle East, including Libya and Syria where people are suffering from great misfortune."

April 16-17th

North Korea adds to the growing tension as it conducts a rocket test. Western reports suggest the launch is a failure. As the test is condemned internationally, Vice President Pence warns North Korean not to “test” Donald Trump; North Korea responds by saying the country will continue to test missiles "weekly" if the US continues its provocations.

April 18th

In a bizarre twist, it emerges that the US warship armada was not heading towards North Korea, despite announcements from US officials, including the President himself, that it was. In fact, the armada was heading towards the coast of Singapore for a joint drill with Australia. The White House is accused of deliberately misleading the public and its allies. White House press security, Sean Spicer, replied to the accusations by saying “What part is misleading? I’m trying to figure that out…We were asked a question about what signal sent. We answered the question on what signal it sent. I’m not the one who commented on timing.” Whether this was a deliberate bluff to heap more pressure on North Korea or was a simple miscommunication is unclear. However, the Pentagon's chief spokeswoman, Dana White, did concede that information around the warships "should have been communicated more clearly at the time."
Sources: BBC, BBC, The Korea Times, The Guardian, The New York Times

Peace Network’s New English Podcast
If you are interested in what’s going on in the Korean Peninsula and would like to listen to a more in-depth analysis and discussion, join Peace Network researchers Olly Terry and Seong Jeonghyun for Peace Network’s new biweekly English podcast. Links to the first 2 episodes are below:
Source : Episode 1 – US-China Summit, Episode 2 – Rising Tensions on the Korean Peninsula 

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