Time to Prepare for North Korean Military Provocation?

The background to the North Korean declaration that all inter-Korea political and military agreements are now invalid, as released Friday by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF), is to put pressure on the Lee Myung Bak administration designed to lead it to shift its North Korea policy.

The CPRF statement read, “The agreed on items between North and South Korea were cruelly destroyed,” by President Lee Myung Bak’s remarks (on North Korean human rights, unification under a free democratic system, and other controversial issues), and then declared all understandings for solving inter-Korean political and military confrontation invalid.

The CPRF announcement, then, includes the subject of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) as clarified by the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement.

Song Dae Sung, President of the Sejong Institute interpreted that, “The statement is sort of a message to South Korea that as the South has chosen to ignore the July 15 Joint Declaration and the October 4 Inter-Korean Summit Agreement, the North will also ignore the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement, which the South values highly. Therefore, it is only to incite South Korean people into conflict with each other in order to undermine the Lee administration policy towards North Korea.”

Yoo Ho Yul, a professor of North Korean Studies at Korea University, said that, “North Korea has drastically raised the level of pressure on South Korea. The time for South Korea to prepare for military provocation has come.”

Institute for National Security Strategy researcher Kim Hwan Seok holds the same opinion as other researchers, and added that, “These seem to be the highest level of vocal threat, which can be used as a justification for their possible future [military] action.”

The CPRF statement actually claimed, “The NLL is an illegal and lawless line that the U.S. drew unilaterally.”

Song interpreted this remark as a strong message to the U.S. to start a dialogue. At the same time, it is to test the U.S.-South Korea alliance.”

Professor Yoo thinks that “North Korea tried to show that Korean Peninsula issues are complicated, and significantly related to the nuclear issue as well as military issues, at a time when North Korea is about to prepare for a new frame of negotiations with the U.S.”

Experts on North Korea predicted that there is the distinct possibility of local military provocation by the North Korean army.

“Although it is difficult to foresee whether or not North Korea will act militarily, North Korea can make gains domestically and internationally by creating a tense atmosphere,” professor Yoo said.

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