This from the People’s Daily.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has urged the United States and South Korea to withdraw heavy weapons from the truce village of Panmunjom, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Monday. The DPRK’s Panmunjom Mission of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) urges the United States and South Korea to withdraw the heavy weapons they deployed in the south side of the area around the Panmunjom Conference Hall, the KCNA said. Those heavy weapons were brought in by the U.S. forces at around 7:25 a.m. (2225 GMT) on Saturday, it said.
The introduction of heavy weapons to the area where armed forces of both sides stand in acute confrontation was “a premeditated provocation aimed to spark off a serious military conflict,” the KCNA quoted the Panmunjom Mission of the KPA as saying. The U.S. forces should immediately withdraw all those weapons already in the area, or the KPA would “take strong military countermeasures,” it added. According to the Armistice Agreement that ended the 1950-1953 Korean War, the forces of both sides in the area around the Panmunjom Conference Hall can only take small arms such as pistols and rifles. Heavy weapons are banned in the area.
Analysis. To say the leaders of the People’s Republic of China are unhappy would be a gross understatement. While the Communist Chinese have not exactly put on a big public display of chastising Kimchee for sinking the Cheonan, they probably have done some things in the background where nobody loses “face”. Obama just figuratively ripped Hu’s lips off at the G-20. Expect no more help and a lot of hindrance from the PRC in dealing with the North Koreans for a long time to come.
The PRC is really incensed that a US carrier group will be in the Yellow Sea. The PRC moved up a naval exercise to purposely coincide with the George Washington group participating in the anti-submarine exercise with the South Koreans. I believe that the last time that there was a carrier group that far north in the Yellow Sea was probably the “Tree War” in 1976.
But the real kicker is the moving of “heavy weapons” into the Joint Security Area. This is not a good sign and I am not sure what it is in response to. This may be in preparation for the beginning of the South Korean propaganda campaign via speakers in the DMZ. The North Koreans have speakers there also. I have pictures of them I took personally on a DMZ tour. Neither will the North Koreans react well to the GW group off their west coast.
The DPRK is going through a very sensitive time with the transition from Kim 2 to Kim 3. There may well be incidents associated with the DPRK monitoring the anti-submarine exercise. There may also be incidents with the PRC as they monitor the exercise. How badly either side plans to harass the GW group is unknown. However, both the PRC and the DPRK would dearly like to cause the GW group to be ineffective and have to leave under pressure. This is especially true as the PRC looks for a way for Hu to reclaim some of his recently lost face.
As is always the case with Korea, escalation is easy. Deescalation is difficult. The DPRK is about to release the current class of 2008 that has completed its military service and intake the 2010 class for its two years of service. The “young soldiers” course usually last four months with time out for the Fall Harvest. Considering that the North has backed off after the sinking of the Cheonan, the DPRK is probably not considering an attack on the South until after the Harvest is in the barns. That may not hold true of Kim believes he is losing control during the transition.
I missed this the first time throiugh but it appears that the PRC has broadcast its solution to the problem.
Ultimately, the solution to tensions on the Korean Peninsula hinges on eliminating the last vestiges of the Cold War. This is the time for all sides involved to break the old, hardened pattern and think of new ways of dealing with North Korea. This is China’s constructive proposal that deserves serious consideration by all parties involved. The world should not turn a blind eye to North Korea’s power in resisting pressure, either. North Korea is a unique nation, a weak country that supports a massive army. This reveals its anxieties and nervousness toward the outside world. The outcome of reassuring North Korea would be much better than that of putting pressure on it.
Translation: sign a peace treaty that guarantees the existence of North Korea under teh Kim family.