South Korea’s National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong has warned that the country expects increased provocative activities from North Korea in October 2017.
In 2017, North Korea has launched 22 missiles in the span of 15 tests. It has increased its military activity since July of 2017 when it test launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). In August 2017, North Korea flew two missiles over Japan. The nation called it the “first step” in its Pacific operations. In September 2017, the nation has conducted its sixth nuclear test to date. In retaliation, US and South Korea have conducted a number of military exercises and attack simulations. The international community has also condemned the actions of North Korea. The UN has imposed some of the harshest sanctions yet on the region.
However, North Korea has remained defiant and has vowed to engage in military conflict with America. US President, Donald Trump has responded by vowing the complete annihilation of North Korea if it does not dismantle its nuclear program.
According to South Korean authorities, North Korea will increase its inflammatory actions in October. October is the anniversary of the North Korean Communist party (Workers' Party of Korea). In addition, China will be hosting the Communist Party Congress domestically. This event takes place once every five years and leaders of the ruling party come to decide on future policies and leadership.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong have reportedly discussed the issue. They believe there will be increased activity from Pyongyang especially between October 10th and October 18th. However, the nation has not provided any further details.
The US too has begun to build up on its considerable military arsenal in the Korean peninsula. According to Eui-yong, US has promised to deploy more “strategic” military assets in the region. The deployment of this hardware could begin 2017 itself. He said, “The US has pledged to expand the rotational deployment of its strategic assets near the Korean peninsula. [The deployment] will begin as early as late this year, and this will help us expand our defense capabilities.”
A telling report by Eu-yong notes that the situation is highly sensitive. He’s noted that an accident could result in an all-out military conflict that would put millions of lives in danger.
In the recent days, North Korea has beefed up the defenses on its east coast. There have been reports of the nation moving planes, fuel and other military supplies to the area.
Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said: “There are some in South Korea that continue to think of nuclear weapons as being the most important signals of alliance assurance, and because the US is not going to deploy nuclear forces, they have created this euphemism of ‘strategic assets’, which usually means big conventional platforms.”
Our assessment is that there are growing concerns in South Korea over both North Korea and the US. In the event of a military conflict, South Korea becomes highly vulnerable to get caught in the crossfire. That’s why South Korea has repeatedly sought assurances from the US to ensure its safety. A more aggressive North Korea would be harder to control even by China.