Starting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's New Year’s speech, the DPRK sends a signal after a signal to Seoul, calling for a return to the “solar heat” policy (1998 - 2008). Kim himself said that "it is necessary to create an atmosphere for the improvement of relations between the North and the South," because "it hurts our nation to live apart from the fault of external forces." Two weeks later, the proposals of the DPRK State Defense Committee “to stop hostile actions” and “not to take thoughtless actions to deploy the most dangerous US nuclear facilities in South Korea” followed.
Saving the world at the last minute?
A week later, the North Korean News Agency, TsTAK, published an open letter to the DPRK GKO DPRK to the South Korean government, in which it was again proposed to stop various provocations, including slander. It was emphasized that Pyongyang unilaterally refused to take actions that could "irritate the South Korean authorities."
“We are not slandering North Korea, so we have nothing to stop,” said a representative of the South Korean Union Affairs Ministry in response. "Previously, North Korea took a conciliatory position when it needed to cope with internal problems ... After the problems were overcome, North Korea began provocations," Kim Min Sok, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, repeated to him. Recall: South Korean law provides for imprisonment for positive feedback on the DPRK. The last case of conviction under this article (a citizen of Kazakhstan received 10 months) occurred about a week ago.
The TsTAK agency responded instantly: "The current rulers of South Korea are carrying out an impossible dream of some kind of" emergency situations ", referring to the internal circumstances in the DPRK, in which they understand little." Skirmish sign. However, as Seoul media admit, the “familiar” balloons with propaganda leaflets really no longer fly through the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas from the north. And, most importantly, the North Koreans proclaimed: “The DPRK does not call on the South Korean authorities to stop normal military exercises. Pyongyang calls only for the cessation of aggressive military exercises, which are held against their own countrymen in collusion with external forces. "
Following this, the Permanent Representative of the DPRK to the UN, Si Son Ho, announced that his country was ready to resume the six-party talks (with the participation of both Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan) on its nuclear program. “We remind again that even a small and occasional conflict can immediately lead to a full-scale war. If “coordination” and “cooperation” with America are so appreciated, would it not be better to conduct exercises in neutral territory or in the United States, away from the land, sea and airspace of the Korean Peninsula, ”added Permanent Representative Xi. In other words, Pyongyang spoke according to the well-known formula of "saving the world at the last minute." So in this long-running game, the ball is probably on the side of Seoul now.
Winter is the best time for the North Korean propaganda offensive, because at the end of February the annual joint US-South Korean military maneuvers Key Resolve and Foal Eagle begin. The situation is very serious. In the course of large-scale amphibious operations that are planned in the framework of these exercises, including potential strikes on Pyongyang will be worked out.
The North Koreans cannot but get nervous when they hear that Seoul has agreed to increase the US military contingent and deploy it on the border of the demilitarized zone. After all, we are talking about offensive weapons, in particular about 40 tanks М1А2 "Abrams". This somehow does not correlate very much with the "exclusively defensive" goals of strengthening the American grouping (in total, 28 thousand US troops are deployed in South Korea today). Moreover, Seoul plans to deploy six reconnaissance radars along the southern borders of the DPRK.
Washington claims that North Korea is expanding its Sohe testing ground. According to American military experts, more powerful ballistic missiles are planned to be tested at this range, which can attack targets not only in East Asia, but also in America (!) The modernization of the test site will allow launching longer and heavier missiles than Unha-3. which recently launched a North Korean satellite into Earth orbit. The recent tests of the KN-08 towed rocket should also indicate this.
According to the Hong Kong South China Morning Post, the South Korean government agreed to allocate 866 million dollars for the maintenance of the American military contingent in the country in 2014 year. This amount is 5,8% more than what was allocated for similar purposes last year. That is, Seoul and Washington are frankly trying to squeeze North Korea, citing its "nuclear missile preparations." This is the “turn towards Asia” proclaimed by Barack Obama in relation to the Korean Peninsula. A year ago, such pressure ended in a major international crisis. Historyseems to be repeating.
One of the strings linking the two Koreas during the era of "solar heat", which was initiated by the late South Korean president Kim Dae Jung, was humanitarian contacts, in particular, meetings of relatives separated by the 1950-1953 civil war. During the exacerbation of relations in 2010, they were interrupted. Their resumption, scheduled for September 2013, was also postponed. Now it is agreed to hold such meetings in February. It turns out that divided relatives will meet on the eve of large military maneuvers in the south of the Korean Peninsula? Well, each of the parties can interpret this in its own way, each with its own propaganda trumps.
Russian rates on the Korean Peninsula
Russia has repeatedly stressed that relations with both Koreas are important for it. Moreover, our country has very serious economic plans in this region, primarily energy ones. About laying a gas pipe to the Republic of Korea through the territory of the DPRK, the conversation was still in 2011 year. Gazprom and the South Korean Kogas even managed to sign a roadmap for its installation. It was supposed to construct a gas pipeline with a length of 1,1 thousand km (starting point - Vladivostok) and a capacity of 10 billion billion cubic meters of gas per year. The cost of the project, according to preliminary estimates, was about 10 billion dollars.
“The gas pipeline has been under discussion for twenty years. Considered different routes, different gas production centers. First Yakut, then Irkutsk, now Sakhalin, ”says Aleksandr Vorontsov, head of the Korea and Mongolia department at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, however. “All the parties confirmed their readiness to participate in the project, including South Korea (during the presidency of Lee Myung-bak)”. For all his rejection of the DPRK, Lee Myung-bak, as a businessman, never refused the idea of the pipeline, was said to be even keen on her. The current President Park Geun-hye has his own priorities, and for the year of her rule there was no progress in this direction. Nevertheless, negotiations on the "pipe" have already passed to the level of economic entities - from our side, Gazprom, from South Korea - Kogas, from the DPRK - Ministry of Petroleum. Now it is stalled.
“Opponents of the land route, the DPRK detractors, recalled even Ukraine - they say, suddenly Pyongyang will block the gas, as Kiev did. They offered to pull the pipe along the bottom of the Sea of Japan, along the Korean Peninsula. However, it is difficult and unsafe, - continues Alexander Vorontsov. According to him, the depths in these places are large, and there are a number of adverse technical factors.
Head of the gas markets sector of the Institute of Energy and Finance Vladimir Revenkov, for his part, recalled that the construction of an underwater gas pipeline is traditionally more expensive than laying a "pipe" on land. And the area is seismic. “But, most importantly, it would still be necessary to build in the territorial waters of the DPRK, so that without permission from North Korea you will not get by. As a result, they refused the sea option, - notes Vorontsov. “Gazprom took all the risks: if the DPRK blocks something, gas will be supplied in a different way.”
“In general, South Korea is the second largest gas importer in the world after Japan. But the share of the pipeline stretched from Russia, in the case of the project, will be the maximum of 12-15 percent of the “blue fuel” consumed by the southerners. This is uncritical, and the overlap of the "pipe" by the Northmen of South Korea will not cause any tangible damage. Damage North Koreans rather inflict themselves. And they are pragmatic people, ”concluded our interlocutor.
In addition, there is another energy project that provides for the supply of electricity to South Korea, rather than hydrocarbons. No one has canceled the Trans-Korean railway project, especially since its pilot part - from the seaside Hassan to North Korean Rajin - has already been reconstructed. The Trans-Korean highway itself is conceived as part of a new railway corridor that will connect Europe and Asia via the shortest route. In other words, there are extremely attractive projects that are hampered by politics and the arms race. However, everyone seems to be arming in this region.
The China factor
“It is impossible to imagine that the United States and China agree on an agreement between Russia and the two Koreas, which will act to the detriment of their interests. Even if these parties closely approach a pipeline agreement that is beneficial for them financially, ”predicted Brad Babson of the American-Korean Institute at George Hopkins University a year ago. It’s difficult to vouch for China; as for the United States, you can probably agree with Bebson.
China is playing its game on the Korean Peninsula. As the representative of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying, said recently, Beijing hopes that "the DPRK and the Republic of Korea will be able to take advantage of the chance and respond to each other’s good intentions by making practical efforts to improve relations." Xinhua News Agency explains: good intentions imply the proposal of Seoul to organize meetings of separated family members from 17 to 22 in February in Kynggansan (North Korea), as well as the “important project” of improving relations between the two sides put forward by Pyongyang action).
True, the Chinese themselves, the Western, above all, the American media, are increasingly accused of playing muscles, including in connection with the inter-Korean confrontation. “China is the main ally of the DPRK. Without cooperation with it, without Chinese investment, North Korea would face an economic collapse, says Alexander Vorontsov. - The fact that China is modernizing its armed forces throughout the country, including in areas adjacent to the Korean Peninsula, is part of the overall defense strategy of the PRC. After all, if North Korea collapses, American troops will immediately find themselves on the Korean-Chinese border. ”