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North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Inches Closer to All-Out War Than Ever Before

They are playing war games on both sides of the North-South demarcation line between the two Koreas, getting close to reality but unable to kill their enemies.

First the US and South Korean fighters, more than 240 of which are led by F-35s configured for both their air forces, then North Korea’s warning of retribution, followed by the volley after the volley of North Korean missile and cannon firing.

North Korean gunners picked up the pace on Thursday, launching an intercontinental ballistic missile of the type that could theoretically carry a warhead to the United States.

The missile did not fly over Japan, as initially feared, but dramatized North Korea’s strategy to threaten the United States and its two Northeast Asian allies, Japan and South Korea, as people in the northern provinces of Japan were asked to seek shelter. North Korea also fired two more short-range missiles among those fired on Wednesday.

With each shot, war seemed to be drawing closer, especially after two North Korean shots created waves south of the so-called Northern Limit Line under which the North Korean ships prohibited.

North Korea doesn’t recognize the dotted lines on maps drawn by the Americans and South Koreans after the Korean War ended, and they proved it on Wednesday with a missile fired near a little-known island. South Korea’s Ulleungdo is 75 miles off the east coast – enough to set up air raid sirens on the island. It also provoked the South to test-fire some of its own missiles and prompted South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol to swear that North Korea would pay “a clear price for its provocations.”

But how far will North Korea be willing to go? And will Kim Jong Un followed up by ordering North Korea to conduct its seventh nuclear test, his first since September 2017?

“Honestly, I don’t know,” said Joseph DeTrani, a veteran US negotiator who confronted North Korea head-to-head before they cut off all talk more than a decade ago. However, DeTrani stressed that the US and South Korea should stick to their guns, insisting on “complete denuclearization” even though Kim has made it quite clear that he loves nuclear weapons and missiles. How is your fire?

Kim Jong Un was late to talk about “tactical nuclear weapons” capable of hitting small targets like bridges or airfields, but North Korea does much better with aging artillery shells, including about 100 North Korean gunners fired off their east coast. what both sides have agreed to will be a “buffer zone” between them.

In fact, North Korea is very good at getting it to “secretly” sell them to Russia, according to John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council. That transaction is entirely in line with Kim’s full support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, where he was previously thought to be considering sending North Korean troops.

People watch a television screen showing a news report showing North Korea’s missile test at a station in Seoul on November 2, 2022.

Jung Yeon-Je / AFP via Getty

Of course, North Korea has issued many warnings about what it might do if the US and South Korea pass this week’s drills. As the US and South Korea sent fighter jets close to the demilitarized zone, North Korea’s foreign ministry warned ominously of “stronger follow-up measures”.

For the United States and South Korea, however, the challenge is in action, all in line with President Yoon’s tough policy on North Korea after five years of failed attempts to appease his conservative predecessor. his freedom.

US and South Korean warplanes are making just that point, taking off from a number of different bases, supporting marines and ground troops, showing what they can do if Kim Jong Un took the fateful step further and actually ordered an attack on the South as he did. threatened. In a show of air power, US B52 and B1 heavy bombers based in Guam and Japan are also expected to take part in the parade, refueled by KC30A refueling aircraft. Australia to show the solidarity of its allies.

I don’t think that will escape Pyongyang’s announcement.

The war games — the largest aerial display by the United States and South Korea since the first few years after the Korean War — matched North Korea’s biggest display of its growing expertise. them with rockets.

Having test-fired more than 40 missiles this year, Kim has his forces fire at least 25 more rounds at short and medium-range models as proof that he can easily hit bases. of the US and Korea. The most obvious target would be Camp Humphreys, the largest US base overseas, the headquarters of 28,500 US troops currently in South Korea. A few miles from Humphreys is Osan Air Force Base, the headquarters of the US Seventh Air Force, where most of the planes have flown.

The war games, first a show of force in the air by the US and South Korea and then the reaction of North Korea, abruptly divert attention from the week-long period of mourning in South Korea. National for 156 people, 101 women, 55 men, mostly children. The 20-year-old, also several teenagers and a high school student, died during a Halloween celebration in Seoul’s booming Itaewon district, GI’s playground before the United Nations and US Command moved to Camp Humphreys, 40 miles south of Seoul, four years ago.

A South Korean Air Force F-15K fires a surface-to-air missile north of the maritime border with North Korea, in this document provided by South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense on November 2, 2022.

Ministry of National Defense / Yonhap via Reuters

Yoon soon expressed his deepest condolences and lashed out at the police for failing to anticipate the crowd of 100,000 during the holiday season and for not being quicker to rescue the victims than he offered. declared and called “emergency” meetings to see what to do with North Korea.

But have America and South Korea’s war games really done much to bring Kim Jong Un back to the negotiating table, much less give up his precious nukes?

“More than 240 aircraft, including many F-35s, will fly 1,300-1,400 combat sorties,” said Evans Revere, a retired senior US diplomat with years of experience in South Korea. “. “I don’t think that will escape Pyongyang’s notice.”

Well, he told The Daily Beast, “this is similar (though MUCH bigger) to things we’ve done in the past.” However, he said, “by increasing the scope and frequency of the exercises, we are placing a heavy burden on the NK regime, which will have to respond, use a lot of fuel beforehand, fly (and break) planes, use rockets, and so on.”

“Every time we move, they have to move, and they can’t afford to do it,” Revere said. “If we continue to maintain this, it will increase the cost of importing the current course. And if we can add new economic measures openly and secretly after the nuclear test, it could cause a lot of pain to their system. “



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