The Associated Press reports that annual military exercises with South Korea have been halted–indefinitely–due to rising tensions on the DMZ and threats of war from Pyongyang. Is this a concession to North Korea’s threats, a bid to reduce tensions on the peninsula, or is it necessary to give American and South Korean units a chance to prepare for possible combat?
“North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday declared his front-line troops in a ‘quasi-state of war’ and ordered them to prepare for battle against South Korea in response to an exchange of artillery fire on the border Thursday,” the AP reports.
The exercise was supposed to run from last Monday through next Friday, so it is being halted or canceled about halfway through. The anonymous officials who spoke to the Associated Press said they “weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly” and did not know if the exercise would resume.
Measuring the true intention behind the belligerent rhetoric of the psychotic Communist state is always a tricky business; North Korea threatens all sorts of dire consequences and yells about war on a fairly regular basis. Only Friday, CNN published a report correctly noting the North’s fondness for “saber-rattling” and noting their current threats did not “necessarily mean war really is imminent” because “North Korea has used similar language in the past without hostilities breaking out.”
Actually, “hostilities break out” on a frequent basis, as well, without escalating into significant engagements or all-out war. The current crisis began when two South Korean soldiers were wounded by landmines North Korea dropped into their DMZ patrol route on August 4. Artillery shells sailed back and forth across the border, with no casualties reported.
Things escalated to the point that South Korea began blasting propaganda messages across the border through loudspeakers, which prompted North Korea to speak of all-out war and increase the combat readiness of its front-line troops. The North Korean artillery attack that prompted South Korean retaliatory shots was evidently an attempt to blow up some loudspeakers.
CNN notes that artillery has popped off in other areas during North-South disputes, but it was deemed an unusual and troubling sign of escalation to see the North lobbing shells across the highly sensitive DMZ.
Read more: breitbart.com