What you need to know about the conflict on the Korean Peninsula

What you need to know about the conflict on the Korean Peninsula

The history of confrontation, the forces of the parties and expert opinions.

Vice-President Michael Penny, during a visit to South Korea, announced that Washington abandons its policy of “strategic patience” toward North Korea. He noted that the US is determined to ensure security on the Korean Peninsula “by peaceful means”, but consider “all options”.

Brief history of the conflict

After 1945, the Korean Peninsula was formed two States, the boundary between them passed by the 38th parallel (line of demarcation, where in 1945, was found by Soviet and American troops). The contradictions between the governments of the two Koreas and their allies (the Soviet Union and China supported North Korea, and the USA, the UK, South Korea) led to a bloody war 1950-1953.

Then killed more than 1 million people on each side. None of the parties have not made substantial territorial and military success, the Korean Peninsula remains divided to this day.

The development of the two Koreas have since taken different paths. The South became a democratic, industrialized state. North has become one of the most closed, militarized and economically underdeveloped countries in the world. Due to the development of nuclear weapons, North Korea is under tough UN sanctions. Sanctions imposed by the US and a number of other countries.

As developed in the nuclear programme of the DPRK

In the 1950-ies, Korea, USSR and China agreed on cooperation in nuclear energy. In 1965, the country was a Soviet reactor IRT-2000, in the 1970-ies began work on the creation of nuclear weapons, using North Korea has been China. In 1974, North Korea joined the IAEA, and in 1985 signed the Treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT).

In 1992, IAEA inspectors were not allowed into a number of North Korean nuclear facilities. The scandal led to the withdrawal of the DPRK from NPT (March 1993) and IAEA (June 1994). By October 1994, the US persuaded Pyongyang to freeze its nuclear program in exchange for shipments of fuel oil and help building nuclear power plants.

In the late 1990-ies, the DPRK acquired from Pakistan installation for uranium enrichment. On 12 December 2002, Pyongyang announced the resumption of its nuclear program, and January 10, 2003 — on a new withdrawal from the NPT after the US refused to help in the creation of the AEC. 10 February 2005, the DPRK foreign Ministry for the first time publicly about the country’s nuclear weapons.

9 October 2006, Pyongyang announced the first successful test of the atomic bomb in the province of Hamgyong-bukto (150 km from the border with Russia). According to the defense Ministry of the Russian Federation, the power of the underground blast was five to 15 kilotons. New tests were carried out in may 2009, February 2013 and September 2016.

December 10, 2015 North Korean leader Kim Jong-UN declared the country’s hydrogen bomb. In January 2016, North Korea reported its trials, but experts have challenged these statements.

In parallel with developed nuclear missile programme of the DPRK. The last test in February 2017 failed — medium-range missile “Musudan” fell into the sea of Japan. Another test after 6 April 2017.

What missile is North Korea

  • Hwaseong-5 (similar to the Soviet R-17) — single-stage liquid-tactical ballistic missile. The maximum range is 340 km warhead Weight — 1000 kg.
  • Hwaseong-6 — upgraded “Hwaseong-5” extended range — up to 700 km.
  • Nodong — a family of ballistic missiles of average range. Maximum range of 1300-1500 km.
  • Musudan ballistic medium-range missile. The estimated range of 2500-4000 km from the Last test of the missile ended unsuccessfully.
  • Taepodong — family of ballistic missiles capable of delivering a payload 700-1000 kg to a range of from 4000 to 6500 km Missile capable of reaching the US West coast.

As tense

On 9 April the United States sent to the coast of the Korean Peninsula strike group of warships led by the nuclear aircraft carrier “Carl Vinson” (Carl Vinson). On Board the carrier is about seven dozen military aircraft and helicopters, including 24 carrier-based fighter-bomber F/A-18, ten air tankers, ten anti-submarine aircraft S-3A, six tactical anti-submarine helicopters SH-3H, four electronic intelligence aircraft and EA-6B, four aircraft distant radar detection E-2.

Along with the carrier strike group includes the guided missile cruiser Lake Champlain (CG-57) and destroyer Michael Murphy (DDG-112) and Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108), equipped with early warning systems “aegis” (Aegis).

The military capabilities of the parties in the region

The number of the armies of the Republic of Korea and the DPRK are comparable (625 vs. 700 thousand thousand soldiers), but in reserve, the North Korea one and a half times more people. According to GlobalFirepower, the Korean people’s army has 4200 tanks (1.7 times more than South Korea). Basically it is the machine T-55 and T-62M Soviet production, the Chinese “Type 59” and local modifications of Soviet tanks — “the Songun-915 and Chonmage”.

The army of the DPRK are also more than 940 aircraft and helicopters (one and a half times less than that of the southerners), mostly obsolete, produced in the USSR or PRC MiG-17, MiG-19, MiG-21, MiG-23. The strength of the Navy of the DPRK — about 60 thousand people. In service — to 70 submarines, and more than 500 small ships.

In the region on several bases in South Korea and Japan also accounted for more than 75 thousand US troops. A potential ally of the United States could become Japan. According to the Military Balance, in the army of Japan are 247,2 thousand people, of which 150,9 thousand make up the army, 45,3 thousand— Navy, 47 thousand air force.

The army of Japan in the location is 678 tanks, 2.9 thousand military armored vehicles, 556 combat aircraft, 49 helicopters, three aircraft carrier, 33 eskadrennyj destroyers, 19 submarines, ships, 27 mine action.

How has the US position on the issue of North Korea

After the change of administration in the United States, the new head of the state Department Rex Tillerson stated that “the so-called strategic patience towards North Korea has been exhausted” and Washington will have to step up pressure on Pyongyang.

This idea was confirmed by the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, in an interview with CNN said: the format of the six-party talks has not justified itself, and Washington is not going to return to it.

The President of the United States Donald trump wrote on Twitter that “North Korea is asking for trouble.” He said that the United States “are willing to do to solve the problem,” if China refuses to help them.

North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U. S. A.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2017

The position of Russia and China unchanged

Moscow and Beijing continued to advocate the settlement of the North Korean problem diplomatically.

March 18, foreign Minister Wang Yi at a meeting with U.S. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson stated that “China for the solution of problems through dialogue and negotiation, as well as maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.” He expressed regret that after the cessation of the six-party talks have no funds for diplomatic and political negotiations.

On 12 April the Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov after talks with Rex Tillerson also said: “There is a common desire to resolve this problem exclusively by political and peaceful means to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through negotiations. There are specific efforts that are now taking members of what used to be called the six-party process. We and our Chinese colleagues have some ideas. We need to unite around the desire to solve this problem exclusively by peaceful means“.

What the experts think

Assistant Professor of political theory at MGIMO Kirill Koktysh: “I think trump is in question here is not about how to really unleash a conflict, strike on North Korea. First and foremost, he needs to impress hard strong and decisive leader, able to “Bang the table” and to put in place anyone. That is, in these actions hides a political message to Congress about what he is capable of firm and decisive action that can get your recipients and without real impact. But when playing this kind of game of chance is not excluded. The conflict is possible by chance. The trump set out to pass close, but not “being” actually”.

Aslan Abashidze, head of the Department of international law PFUR, Professor of international law Department of MGIMO of the MFA of Russia: “From trump, as it has now become clear after the launch on Syria, “Tomahawk”, you can expect anything. But I still don’t think it’s so crazy that dare to strike at a sovereign state that has not fully exhausted all international legal means of influencing the leadership of North Korea. It will be a very big mistake, a much bigger and worse than the one in Iraq. The consequences of an attack here will be completely different. There is no guarantee that the Serena Korea will not strike back. I really hope that the US is just a bluff, especially in South Korea are American military”.

Leading researcher of the Center for Korean studies, RAS Konstantin Asmolov in an interview with “Kommersant FM”: “the Probability of an attack is already very high. This is about 25-30%, which is quite a lot. Trump needs to show that he’s cool and that he is not the man appointed by Putin. The deal with North Korea is unacceptable, because the country has so demonized him that if he didn’t show needs swagger, all the key TV channels will be released under the title “trump merged.” If you try to use hard power methods, then it must be done very quickly because northerners know what is coming and is very actively developing its nuclear program, trying to get to the level in which American military action may be the answer “of course we will die, but you will not find it too”.

Kosichev Eugene, Eugene, Fedorenko, Olga Shkurenko