- North Korea will conduct large-scale naval gunnery drills near the West Sea NLL. The North has declared it will conduct drills in seven spots along the NLL, in effect turning all the waters north of the line into an artillery range. South Korean authorities have told fishing boats to stay far away from the NLL just in case North Korean shells start falling south of the line, which has happened before.
UPDATE: North and South Korea now firing shells into each others water after North Korean shells fell south of the NLL. No word on how many fish have been killed so far. On a more serious note, it seems the islanders on Yeonpyeongdo have taken to shelters. Probably smart—you can never rule out North Korea raining a few shells on a West Sea island just for shits and giggles.
– North Korea is threatening to nuke itself again. And they don’t like ongoing joint Korea—US drills (and I suppose large-scale amphibious landing drills involving thousands of Korean and US marines might give Pyongyang pause):
The North also took aim at joint South Korea-U.S. military drills, accusing Washington of “madcap nuclear war exercises” and vowed to conduct war drills itself.
The ministry claimed to have “unimaginable” moves planned should the U.S. continue to provoke it.
“Madcap” is a word we just don’t use enough anymore, so good on the North Koreans for bringing it back.
It might be interesting to note—well, OK, it really isn’t—that North Korea’s bluster comes right after President Park unveiled the so-called Dresden Doctrine, which calls for expanding exchanges between the two Koreas and lots and lots of economic assistance if Pyongyang gives up its nukes. As Donald Kirk points out, it’s not as if we haven’t heard previous South Korean presidents offer much the same, and given what happened to Libya and what’s happening to the Ukraine, I’m guessing North Korea is, if anything, even less inclined to give up its nukes that at any time previously. I also wonder if the North noticed that Park made her speech in a) a country that reunified after one side got absorbed into the other and b) in a city most famous for getting firebombed by the United States and Great Britain.
Back to the nuke test threats, though. According to Jeffrey Lewis (a.k.a Arms Control Wonk), director of the East Asia nonproliferation program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Pyongyang could be preparing to conduct regular tests:
“The old way was that we thought of the North’s test as ‘atomic temper tantrums’ — they’d do one-offs every few years to show us how angry they are. But to me, it looks like they’re getting ready to do a lot of tests over the next few years,” Mr. Lewis said in a phone interview.
Possibilities, he said, include simultaneous tests, conducting a nuclear test in a shaft rather than in a tunnel, or most seriously, an “atmospheric test” — such as detonating a nuclear device from a tower, or using a live warhead on a live missile.
“The universe of bad things they could do is pretty big,” Mr. Lewis said. “The main takeaway is that they’re moving away from ‘stun’ and using the tests to develop the military capabilities that they know they want.”
Atmospheric tests? OK, that would grab my attention.