Both South Korea and the United States are putting pressure on North Korea through a combination of military exercises and financial sanctions. These actions come after a statement from North Korea through the National Defense Commission on July 23, reading, “We will begin a retaliatory holy war based on nuclear deterrent.”
If North Korea prepares a third nuclear test as a countermeasure to the Republic of Korea and United States (ROK-US) Joint Military Exercises, the Korean peninsula can expect to enter an unprecedented level of tension. Therefore, information is being gathered with regards to North Korea’s additional military measures.
Large scale ROK-US military exercises are scheduled to be held in the East Sea, spanning from July 25 to 28. Known as “Invincible Spirit”, the exercise will mobilize the very best of ROK-US weapon systems (USS George Washington and F-22). North Korea stated that by using such equipment, the militaries have moved from defensive exercises into offensive threats.
However, North Korea will have difficulty taking military countermeasures during the training period without the risk of provoking retaliation from the South's forces. Though these measures are being used to deter nuclear attack, there is concern that tensions between the North and South will rise.
Financially, North Korea is concerned over the sanctions the U.S. has over the North's overseas accounts. According to a South Korean administration official, the U.S. is planning to initiate a financial sanction to target North Korea with new domestic laws, known as “the administrative order.” There are three categories to the authority: weaponry; luxury items and drug, imitation cigarettes and counterfeit bills.
The official anticipated that, “North Korea needs one billion dollars a year to function but since the U.S. is controlling illegal financial transactions, Japan is blocking the money transfer of Chongryon (General Association of North Korean Residents in Japan), and the South Korean administration is taking measures to stop goods importation, North Korea has suffered a blow to its economy. Therefore, the effects of this new sanction will be huge.”
When approximately 25 million dollars contained in 50 banks accounts was frozen in 2005, Kim Kye Gwan, Vice Foreign Minister of North Korea, admitted that, "It was like our blood was drying up." Due to these concerns it seems likely that if North Korea take firm measures with nuclear testing, it will be aimed at the U.S' financial sanctions.
As of yet, no serious threats from the North have been detected. A source from Sinuiju reported, "No measure was handed down and there is no unstable mood among the citizens." In addition, a South Korean military official commented, "No strange movement is being observed at the Military Demarcation Line."
Baek Seung Ju, Chief of the Center for Security and Strategy at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, reported to The Daily NK, "North Korea raised its voice about provocations by mentioning its nuclear capability, however another nuclear test would not be favorable to North Korea in its current situation.”