Time is not right to consider military action against Pyongyang: experts

A military operation cannot be the top option for the United States to address the North Korean nuclear crisis at the moment when recent formal talks between Pyongyang and Seoul helped ease the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, according to experts.

At a think tank event recently held in Washington, Richard Bush, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, stressed that the United States should not take military action against North Korea especially in the backdrop of China ramping up efforts to impose sanctions on Pyongyang, despite the fact that it is difficult for the parties involved to make concessions.

On Tuesday, North Korea and South Korea held their rare official talks, where the two countries made a consensus to hold more discussions on reducing the military tensions along their borders and to resume a long-suspended military hotline, with North Korea agreeing to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics next month in South Korea's Pyeongchang.

One day after the talks, South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed the willingness to meeting with North Korea's top leader Kim Jong-un if certain conditions are met.

The talks came after the comments by Kim in a New Year's Day speech, in which Kim suggested immediate talks with Seoul over sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics in an abrupt push for improved relations between the two countries.

Nevertheless, Bush is not optimistic about the resumption of talks for the North Korea nuclear issue as Pyongyang maintains a tough stance. North Korea is getting closer to the goals of its nuclear weapons program, so it does not want to stop it, Bush said.

At the think tank event, Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, where he specializes in US defense strategy, the use of military force, and American national security policy, echoed Bush, saying that a military strike on North Korea would result in terrible consequences.

If the US intercepts North Korea's long-range ballistic missiles, Pyongyang might fight back by launching attacks on any ships near the waters off its coastline, possibly causing more US casualties, said O'Hanlon.

O'Hanlon said that the plan of destroying North Korea's nuclear facilities might cause a nuclear leak, which would affect the security of the surrounding countries.

O'Hanlon is not in favor of the decapitation strike against Kim, citing the low success rate. In a word, a military operation would get more kicks than halfpence, said O'Hanlon.

According to an article written by Bonnie Jenkins on Tuesday, who served as the US Department of State's Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, the United States and Canada would hold a foreign minister's conference in Vancouver later this month to discuss about the security of the Korean Peninsula. The conference will also be attended by representatives from South Korea and Japan.

Jenkins wrote that the purpose of the conference was to find ways to get North Korea back to the negotiating table and to put more pressure on it.

A survey conducted by Shibley Telhami, a non-resident senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings Institution, showed that 22 percent of 2,000 respondents from the United States and Japan thought that China should have adopted a tougher stance toward North Korea while 35 percent of the people surveyed believed that the six-party talks would be the best way to solve the North Korean nuclear problem. Forty-four percent of the respondents opposed a military attack on North Korea, according to the survey.

In terms of the purposes of the North Korean nuclear weapons program, the survey said that 46 percent of the respondents deemed it as a way to protect North Korea's regime while 25 percent feared that the nuclear weapons program is developed for offensive purposes. Fifteen percent of the respondents said that the actions of the United States and its allies forced North Korea to develop nuclear weapons for national security.


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