South Korea and the United States have made a series of moves lately. South Korea announced on Oct. 7 that a previous missile accord with Washington had been altered to allow the country to possess longer-range ballistic missiles and to use heavier payloads for missiles and drone aircraft. On Oct. 23 and 24, the two countries set the deadline for Washington's transfer of wartime operational control of South Korean troops to Seoul, and agreed to develop joint nuclear deterrence strategies tailored to specific threats from North Korea by 2014.
The history of the Korean peninsula determines the subtle, complex, and sensitive relationship between South Korea and North Korea. In such a context, the new security moves South Korea and the United States have made lately may be easily considered by North Korea to be acts of provocation. In order to promote U.S. strategic rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region, the United States has allowed South Korea to enhance its ballistic missile striking capability. Many people believe that the move is aimed at meeting South Korea’s demand for more military independence, allowing it to play a greater role in regional affairs, and enabling the United States to devote more energy and resources to other areas in the region.
The two countries' recent moves have been closely watched by the parties concerned. The new U.S. accord allows South Korea to increase the maximum range of its ballistic missiles from 300 kilometers to 800 kilometers, meaning that the country will be able to launch ballistic missiles from its central regions to hit all parts of North Korea. North Korea has reacted angrily to the accord, saying that it will use every conceivable means to enhance its missile capability and it is only natural for Pyongyang to do so. Russia says it takes a negative stance on South Korea's recent moves because longer-range missiles in the hands of Seoul may heighten political and military tensions on the Korean peninsula, and trigger a new round of regional arms race.
A spokesperson for the North Korean Foreign Ministry said on Oct. 25 that North Korea has to enhance its nuclear deterrence due to Washington's increasingly hostile policy toward it. Overall, the strategic distrust among all parties concerned has been further aggravated, putting the Korean peninsula at risk of falling into a vicious circle of security.
As a close neighbor of both South and North Korea, China hopes the two countries can solve their disputes through dialogue and consultation, and firmly opposes armed conflicts or any other action that may cause tensions on the peninsula. At a time when the regional situation is sensitive and complex, all parties concerned should take the security interests of Northeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region into consideration, and work tougher to maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, instead of intensifying regional tensions and endangering regional security out of self-interest.
Read the Chinese version: 维护朝鲜半岛安全需要冷静克制, source: People's Daily, author: Zhong Sheng
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