November 23, 2010
Major powers expressed concern or alarm at North Korea's shelling of a South Korean island on Monday.
Among North Korea's neighbors, Russia said it saw a "colossal danger" of an escalation in fighting on the Korean peninsula and China said it was imperative to resume six-party talks aimed at ending the north's nuclear weapons program.
Following South Korean firing exercises near disputed waters, North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells at the island of Yeonpyeong. Two soldiers were killed and houses set ablaze in one of the heaviest bombardments of the South since the Korean War ended in 1953.
The United States urged North Korea to "halt its belligerent action," saying that it was "firmly committed to the defense of our ally, the Republic of Korea, and to the maintenance of regional peace and stability."
Japan's top government spokesman said that North Korea's action was "unforgiveable." Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku told a news conference in Tokyo that Japan "strongly condemns" the strike.
A French diplomatic source said the U.N. Security Council could hold an emergency meeting in the next day or two.
"It is necessary to immediately end all strikes," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters during a visit to the Belarusian capital Minsk. "There is a colossal danger which must be avoided. Tensions in the region are growing."China, the impoverished North's only powerful ally, was careful to avoid taking sides, calling on both Koreas to "do more to contribute to peace.
It is imperative now to resume the six-party talks," a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry told reporters.
China's economic and diplomatic support have been important to shoring up its otherwise isolated neighbor, whose leader Kim Jong-il has visited China twice this year to strengthen ties.
The NATO alliance, the European Union and Britain all condemned the North Korean attack, and Germany joined them in expressing concern and calling for restraint.
Analysts saw North Korea's action as a calculated tactic.
They said it could be aimed either at boosting its leverage in international talks -- a tactic it has used in the past -- or at reinforcing the domestic standing of the young heir apparent anointed by Kim Jong-il, his son Kim Jong-un.
"The shelling is likely succession-related in that the DPRK (North Korea) is seeking to build political capital for Kim Jong-un by attempting to enhance the perception of Jong-un's power base," said Brittany Damora, analyst at the risk advisory firm AKE.Alastair Newton, political analyst at Nomura in London, said the South had made clear that it wanted to avoid an escalation, and that the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March, although denied by the North, had arguably been more serious because of the 46 lives lost.
"In the North's view, Yeonpyeong is a great target in that it can strengthen the perception of its position without a real risk of counter-attack."
"Bottom line: together with possible preparations for a third nuclear test and the revelation at the weekend of the uranium enrichment facility, this looks like it could be North Korea playing hardball in anticipation of coming back to the negotiating table," Newton said.One European diplomat said it was conceivable that the attack could be an attempt by a faction in North Korea's secretive leadership to sabotage attempts at rapprochement with the outside world.
The political risk consultancy Stratforsaid the attack was at odds with other recent North Korean actions, noting that Pyongyang had sent a list of delegates to Seoul for Red Cross talks due to take place on Thursday.
"With the ongoing leadership transition in North Korea, there have been rumors of discontent within the military, and the current actions may reflect miscommunications or worse within the North's command-and-control structure, or disagreements within the North Korean leadership," it said.
November 23, 2010
Tensions are near the boiling point on the Korean peninsula after North Korea shelled a South Korean island, killing two South Korean soldiers. What's behind this latest spike in hostilities between the longtime adversaries, and just how concerned should we be -- especially since we have 25,000 military personnel stationed in South Korea? Here's what you need to know.
What happened, exactly?
Early Tuesday, North Korea fired artillery shells at the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, which sits off the disputed maritime border between the two countries. The attack killed two South Korean marines and wounded 18 soldiers and civilians. It prompted an exchange of fire between the two sides, involving around 175 artillery shells and lasting about an hour.
The North accused South Korea of having started the exchange by firing shells inside North Korean territory during a set of South Korean military exercises that the North called "war maneuvers." The South denies that charge, saying that its soldiers were merely conducting military drills and that no shots fell in North Korean territory.
The North Korean attack was the first on a civilian area of South Korea since the Korean War.
Why did this happen now?
Tensions have been running high since March, when a South Korean naval vessel in the same area was sunk, killing 46 sailors. Seoul blamed a North Korean torpedo attack, though the North has denied involvement.
Then earlier this month, the South Korean navy fired warning shots at a North Korean fishing boat after the craft strayed across the border. The North Korean boat retreated.
Some analysts have linked Tuesday's action by the North to the impoverished nation's need for food. The Obama administration has refused to remove sanctions against the North, imposed in response to its nuclear program.
"They see that they can't pressure Washington, so they've taken South Korea hostage again," Choi Jin-wook, a senior researcher with the South Korean Institute for National Unification, told the New York Times. "They're in a desperate situation, and they want food immediately, not next year."
Does this have anything to do with North Korea's leadership situation?
Kim Jong Il, the North's ailing and reclusive leader, is believed to be gradually shifting power over to his son, Kim Jong Un, who in September was promoted to the rank of four-star general.
Some analysts believe the transition has made North Korea eager to demonstrate its military power. Kim Jong Il famously employed an aggressive "military first" approach to politics, and spoke of turning the North Korean army into a "pillar of the revolution." The regime may now want to show the world that the same military-first policies will prevail under his successor.
"The son's power base is derived from the military, and the power of [the] military is greater than ever," Cheong Seong-Chang, a fellow at the Seoul-based Sejong Institute, told Time magazine.
How has the world reacted?
The United States, Britain and Japan have condemned the North Korean attack, with America calling on the North to "halt its belligerent action." China said it was "concerned," while Russia has urged restraint and a peaceful solution to the crisis.
What's the U.S. role in all this?
The United States wants North Korea to resume the six-party talks on the country's nuclear program. The talks, which also include Russia, China, Japan in addition to America and the two Koreas, were launched in 2003, after North Korea opted out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The talks' aim is to arrive at a peaceful diplomatic agreement to contain the North's nuclear capacity -- but the talks have been in limbo since 2008, and earlier this week, an American scientist revealed that he had been shown a sophisticated North Korean nuclear enrichment facility, throwing the resumption of the talks into further doubt.
[More details: U.S., China disagree on more nuke talks with N. Korea]
Today's incident adds another obstacle, experts say.
The revelation of the uranium facility and Tuesday's attack on South Korea may both be expressions of the North's concern that the Obama administration and its allies are unlikely to offer concessions such as the easing of sanctions.
"I think they realize they can't expect anything from Washington or Seoul for several months, so I think they made the provocation," Choi Jin-wook, senior researcher at the Korea Institute of National Unification, told CNN.
How scared should we be?
South Korea has placed its military on "crisis status," and Prime Minister Lee Myung-bak has reportedly ordered strikes on North Korea's missile base if the North makes any "indication of further provocation." It appears unlikely, though not impossible, that further military action will result.
[Photos: N. Korean leader Kim Jong Il and more]
South Korea does not have an active nuclear weapons program. North Korea is believed already to have eight to 12 nuclear bombs. But nuclear issues aside, any military conflict between the countries could badly destabilize the region, especially if the North Korean government were to collapse -- an outcome that some South Koreans fear could lead to a Chinese takeover.
November 23, 2010
Tensions between North and South Korea, which remain technically at war, have sparked military clashes on and off since a 1953 ceasefire was signed.
Here is a timeline of major incidents including some involving U.S. forces allied with the South:
January 1968 - Thirty-one heavily armed North Korean spies infiltrate deep into Seoul with a mission to assassinate then President Park Chung-hee; 28 are shot to death.
January 1968 - North Korea seizes U.S. spy ship USS Pueblo and for 11 months holds captive its crew of 83, one of whom dies.
April 1969 - A North Korean MiG-17 fighter jet shoots down a U.S. spyplane killing all 31 aboard.
August 1976 - North Korean soldiers kill two U.S. military officers using axes in a dispute over trimming a tree in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
October 1983 - Seventeen senior South Korean officials including several cabinet ministers are killed when a bomb goes off in the capital of Burma, now Myanmar. A Burmese court rules that it was a North Korean plot.
November 1987 - A Korean Air flight departing Baghdad and bound for Seoul explodes in mid-air over the Bay of Bengal, killing 115. A North Korean spy is convicted by a South Korean court for planting the bomb. Another North Korean believed to have been involved commits suicide.
September 1996 - A North Korean submarine on a spy mission runs aground in the South and the crew flee, sparking a massive manhunt. More than 30 people die, including 24 of the crew, 11 of whom are found together dead.
December 1998 - South Korean navy sinks a submersible North Korean spy vessel off the east coast of the peninsula. One North Korean scuba diver is found dead.
June 1999 - At least 17 and as many as 80 North Korean sailors are killed in naval clashes near the disputed maritime border between the Koreas, the Northern Limit Line (NLL), in the Yellow Sea. One of the North's vessels is sunk, others damaged. The battle follows nine days of incursions by the North into South Korean waters.
June 2002 - In a bloody skirmish between South and North Korean naval vessels in the Yellow Sea, one South Korean frigate is sunk and six South Korean sailors die. As many as 13 North Koreans may have perished.
July 2003 - South Korea says its troops returned machine gun fire after the North shot at an observation post in the DMZ between the two states.
May 2006 - Two North Korean soldiers enter the DMZ and cross into South Korea. They return after South Korean soldiers fire warning shots.
July 2008 - A 53-year-old South Korean housewife, out for morning stroll, is shot dead by the North Korean military on a restricted beach near North Korea's Mount Kumgang. The South Korean government suspends tours to North Korea.
November 2009 - The two Koreas engage in a brief naval fight just south of their maritime border damaging vessels from both sides.
January 2010 - The two Koreas exchange artillery fire near the maritime border.
March 2010 - The South Korean navy corvette Cheonan is torpedoed, killing 46 sailors. Seoul blames the North for the attack, which Pyongyang denies. A joint civilian and military investigation team including experts from the United States, Australia, Britain and Sweden, concluded that a North Korean submarine fired the torpedo.
November 2010 - North Korea fires dozens of artillery shells at the island of Yeonpyeong hitting a South Korean military base and setting houses ablaze. Two soldiers are killed and 20 people are injured. South Korea says it was conducting military exercises before the exchange but insists test firings were not aimed toward North Korea.
According to David Bay, Cutting Edge Ministries:
President Richard Nixon issued Executive Order #11647 on February 14, 1972, which reorganized the United States into 10 federal regions... The unconstitutional goal of this reorganization into 10 super regions is to set the stage for the abolishment of governments from the federal, to the state, to the county, and even to the local, levels. The objective is to set in place the form of government that could be implemented during a planned crisis, that would effectively strip us of our elected representational form of government. Suddenly, we would find ourselves being governed by officials who are not elected, nor responsible to any voters.
This regional system is apparently unlimited in its scope and powers. Thus, Americans could very well discover that they are back under the control of the type of government that our Founding Fathers spent their lives and fortunes overthrowing! Worse still, we could find ourselves facing the type of dictator which we have seen ruling Russia and Nazi Germany.
This regional system is also apparently a military structure. We will see this more clearly when the federal program called "General and Complete Disarmament" (Public Law 87-297) is fully integrated according to this 10-region system of government. We also will probably not see this 10-region system implemented until we are under the simultaneous crises of which we have spoken many times.
When America is under the following planned crises, we will witness this changeover to this 10-region system, most likely with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) exercising initial control. These are apparently the crises that are planned:
- All-out nuclear warfare in the Middle East (or neutron warfare).
- All-out nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula (or at least the threat of such a war).
- Arab terrorists threatening to devastate American cities with atomic, chemical or biological weapons (or actually carrying out this threat).
- Total oil embargo from the Arab nations in support of Arab forces fighting Israel in the Middle East.
- Earthquakes deliberately caused to create panic.
- Simultaneous riots in many American cities to further cause panic.
- American Presidency weakened because of scandal and infighting with Congress and the Courts to further cause panic among American voters.
- The Stock Market will crash, causing absolute panic amongst all Americans. Jobs will immediately begin to be lost, thus further adding to the panic.
Antichrist is supposed to appear at the end of the Middle East crisis. If this occurs, then "aliens" and visible "angels" are to appear to urge all peoples of the world to support him and his plan.
At this moment, the head of FEMA will suddenly appear, announcing that he is taking "temporary" control, and quoting all the various Executive Orders and laws passed by Congress giving him all the authority he needs to assume the powers of government, of all branches of our former Constitutional government.
Once this changeover to the new 10-region system of government occurs, amidst all these contrived and planned crises, you may rest assured the End of the Age is upon us.