COLUMBIA, S.C. — Another earthquake shook up the South Carolina Midlands Thursday morning.
The earthquake hit at around 7 a.m. about 20 miles outside of Columbia, according to the United States Geological Survey. The 2.5 magnitude had it’s epicenters near Elgin.
This is the sixth earthquake since Dec. 27 when a 3.3 magnitude quake was reported. People reported feeling shaking and hearing a loud boom during some of the other quakes. All the seismic activity has been centered near Elgin or neighboring Lugoff. The other four earthquakes have been 2.5 magnitude or lower.
An earthquake of 2.5 magnitude is considered minor, according to seismologists. For the most part quakes that register 2.5 magnitude or less go unnoticed and are only recorded by a seismograph. Any quake less than 5.5 magnitude is not likely to cause significant damage.
Earthquakes can happen in clusters, seismologist say.
From 1945 to 1972, the Scandinavian nation even ran a clandestine nuclear weapons program under the guise of civilian research at the Swedish National Defence Research Institute (FOA). At issue was how to deploy such a weapon if the need arose, and from 1952-57 the Swedish military even conducted a feasibility study to develop a delta-wing supersonic bomber that would have a nuclear strike capability.
Thus was born Projekt 1300, a bomber that would be able to carry a free-falling nuclear weapon weighing up to 800kg. Unlike American or Soviet bombers of the era, which needed to fly extreme distances, the Swedes opted for a smaller bomber that could be flown by a single pilot. The distance was considered less of an issue as the most likely adversary would be the Soviet Union, of course.
With a proposed range of around 250 miles (410 km), the bomber could reach targets in the Baltic States, which were under the control of the Soviet Union, and even the city of Leningrad (today’s St. Petersburg).
A-36 Fast and Rugged
The Saab A-36 may have been able to fly great distances, but it could reach targets quickly. Saab’s engineers actually studied numerous configurations while developing the bomber. This included swept wings as well as delta-wing designs, and in the end, it was determined that the delta wing would be most suitable, enabling the aircraft to reach speeds around Mach 2.
To achieve such high speeds, a number of different configurations were considered and a surviving wind tunnel test model included a twin-engine design with the engines mounted on the wings advanced to the next stage of development. As the project moved forward it was decided to utilize the British Bristol Olympus, which was the same type of engine used in the Avro Vulcan and the commercial Concorde SST.
The aircraft was also to be fitted with an afterburner and air intake.
The high speed of the Projekt was an issue, however. Saab’s engineers expressed concerns that the airframe would experience significant aerodynamic heating, and that the high heat could even damage the nuclear weapons, possibly even detonating a bomb prematurely!
To address those issues, the engineers determined that the payload could be carried within an internal weapons bay. It also addressed another issue, namely of drag, which impacted the aircraft’s performance. There was a tradeoff, however. Carrying the weapon internally meant the payload would be limited, and in addition, the internal space for fuel, avionics, and other systems was impacted.
The other notable Swedish design trait of the bomber was that it would be able to operate from dispersed airfields, which was a key component of the nation’s military doctrine. The concern was that in the event of war that major airfields and bases would be hit early. Exactly how designers meant to address the issues isn’t entirely clear, but the bomber was meant to be as hearty as the Swedish people!
Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.
In January, more earthquakes have been recorded nearby, ranging from 1.5 to a 2.6 in magnitude. No injury or damage was reported.
Now it’s May – and the quakes are back.
In the early hours of May 9, a 3.3 magnitude earthquake shook the ground in Elgin. The earthquake was followed by two back-to-back earthquakes an hour later registering 1.6 and 1.8 magnitudes.
The three quakes pushed South Carolina’s 2022 earthquake tally to 23, with 19 happening within 35 miles of Columbia. Historically, 70% of earthquakes in the state happen along the Coastal Plain, but because the state isn’t considered a hot spot for earthquake activity, the recent midstate quakes are a bit of a mystery.
Though quakes are nothing new to South Carolina, many people in the state are not affected. According to emergency management officials, about 70% of South Carolina earthquakes are located in the Middleton Place-Summerville Seismic Zone, about 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) northwest of Charleston.
Every year South Carolina has a week devoted to earthquake preparedness. And there is good reason for awareness.
Aug. 31, 2021, was the 135th anniversary of the largest earthquake to occur in the eastern U.S. In the late evening on that day in 1886, a magnitude 7 earthquake struck near Charleston, causing the loss of more than 100 lives. Many buildings collapsed or were heavily damaged, with economic losses estimated at more than $100 million in today’s dollars.
The quake was felt throughout much of the eastern and central U.S., with people reporting feeling it as far north as New York and as far west as Illinois and Missouri.
In 1999, retired T&D Publisher Dean B. Livingston wrote about what is recorded locally about that “unscheduled” occurrence that had a lot of people singing “Nearer My God To Thee.”
“The area was pounded for a week by quake shocks from four to 12 times a day. The Times and Democrat wrote of the earth’s rumblings: ‘This earthquake frightened many of the inhabitants into deep religious complex, such as was never known before, bringing about a great religious revival in the churches. …’
“One person wrote that ‘many thought the end of the world had come.’ Some terror-stricken citizens in Rowesville ‘ran to and fro exclaiming: ‘The great Judgment Day is at hand. Lord have mercy on me.” A T&D article noted that ‘many people prayed during the past two weeks who never prayed before.’
“A Sawyerdale citizen reported that ‘the flood of accessions to our various churches is almost unparalleled.’
“As late as Oct. 14, The T&D reported that ‘shocks have become so common now that people soon throw off the peculiar feeling that they inspire, and go along as if nothing unusual had occurred. There is no telling when they (shocks) will end. …’
“Over in Vance, the quake was described as a ‘sound, a deep, muffled sound … resembling the distant thunder … the earth was one tremendous oscillation. Buildings creaked … poultry squawked, dogs howled, birds chirped; in fact, everything was completely aroused and powerfully demoralized … from 10 to 11 p.m., nine successive shocks were felt.’
“Two Orangeburg men were fishing on the Edisto River when the first big shock hit. They said the first noise sounded like a loud clap of thunder. ‘This was followed by the usual rumbling which was also very loud and deep. The course of the shake was distinctly marked by the falling of the berries and acorns from the trees as it passed.”
While they have no stories comparable to 1886, people of The T&D Region periodically experience tremors. With a large fault in the earth extending from Charleston into the region, when another major quake will come is unpredictable — but practically certain.
South Asia is most important region of the world in terms of geography, demography and strategic importance. The region is gathered in round mass of states like Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, The one fifth population of the world is living in South Asia. In the region India and Pakistan are important states of the sub-Continent and has great hostility over the unresolved and disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The security of the region is depends upon the relations between India and Pakistan. The hostile relation between the two countries affected not only the progress and prosperity of the two nations but also affected the quality of life of people of both sides.
India wants to become a dominant power in the region on the basis of its military and economic strength. While Pakistan do not want to live under the threat of its neighbor. After the Sino-India war in 1962, India started to modernize its armed force and this Indian step compelled Pakistan to do same because India wanted to alter the strategic balance in the region.
The initiation of nuclearization in South Asia was started by India. “HOMI BHABA” launched India’s nuclear program. India’s first Prime Minister Nehru, called the bomb a “symbol of evil,” but he was adamant that India’s nuclear program pursue only peaceful applications. India thought to acquire its nuclear weapon after China’s nuclear test in 1964. After India’s attention Pakistan also focused to get nuclear weapon. As a bigger economy and technological growth India desired to make nuclear weapon and this thing provoke Pakistan to do same.
In 1974, India conducted its first nuclear test in Rajasthan. US said India make big mistake and called India, “number one hegemonic power” in the region. But no serious action was taken to stop India from acquiring further nuclear technology. Instead, major powers think to restrain Pakistan from getting nuclear capability, when its peaceful nuclear program was in process. Pakistan’s serious efforts for nuclear development started after the Indian military intervention in East Pakistan in 1971. Although Pakistan was forced to leave its nuclear program and threatened that sanctions would be imposed on Pakistan by US. But US did not threaten India who had already tests its nuclear.
India wants to create nuclear deterrence in the region especially over Pakistan. On 11, May 1998, India had conducted its five nuclear tests which were unannounced. In response to Indian nuclear tests, Pakistan also conducted its five nuclear tests on 28, May 1998 and additional tests in 30, May. Although the economic and military sanction were imposed on both India and Pakistan by US, but EU considered that the Indian nuclear test is threat to international peace and also describes that Pakistan’s security concerns are understandable.
After the incident of 9/11, US has changed its policy towards South Asia to achieve its goal by reshaping its political, economic, military and strategic partnership with India. In 2001 US president Bush changed its policy toward China and declared China a “strategic competitor rather than a partner”. US decided to make India a major power in the 21st century to counter China. US considered that India is the only country which can help US to counter China.
In 2005, Indian PM Man Mohan Singh visited Washington, US offered full support of civil nuclear energy, by giving India a status as a member state of nuclear nonproliferation without signing agreement, means recognize India as a nuclear weapon state. Finally India-US civil nuclear deal agreement was signed in July, 18, 2005. This was US changing behavior towards Pakistan and its implication for Pakistan can be judge clearly because India can create strong threat to Pakistan’s security by using this civil nuclear technology to its military purposes. In 2009 India allows US companies to build nuclear reactor in India.
The security situation of South Asia is always characterized by the rivalry between India and Pakistan. The rise of one state of India, means the fall of other states. India is increasing its defense capabilities to become dominant power in the region, which is also cause of concerns of Pakistan. Pakistan is already alert about the Indian dominance and its increasing conventional and non-conventional warfare ability. India has the ambitious to dominate the South Asian region and wants to create its hegemonic design in the region, which will put negative impact on Pakistan. Pakistan do not want to create it hegemony in the region, but Pakistan’s concerns regarding its security has increased after Indian hostile, aggressive and provocative behavior towards Pakistan.
India is spending billions of dollars in the procurement of arms from Russia, US, France and Israel and become a largest arms importer in the world. In order to maintain balance of power in the region Pakistan is also spending large amount of its budget for its security needs. This Indian extra ordinary spending on purchasing arms has created a threat full environment in the region and created insecurity among the regional countries especially for Pakistan.
In 2016, at BRICS summit, India finalized agreement with Russia for the purchase of five S-400 missile systems. Initially, Indian government has paid 800 million dollar to Russia, as an advance payment and it was expected that India will receive the first batch of S-400 Russian, missile system in late 2021 but it did not received yet.
Acquiring of Russian S-400 defense system signals that India is fully determined to create its hegemony in the region especially over Pakistan. This Indian hegemonic designs is not only cause of concern for countries, but will alter the strategic environment of South Asia, which is already under the shadow of India’s aggressive and warmongering attitude. It will create sense of insecurity among other south Asian states.
India always try to create Imbalance in the region, while Pakistan always took countermeasures to maintain power asymmetry in the region. Now India is advancing itself form middle rang to log rang missile and from ballistic missile to hypersonic technology and has left no option for Pakistan except to do same. Many time Pakistan has proposed South Asia free of nuclear weapons but it was rejected by India. If India gets ready to give up its nuclear weapon then Pakistan will do the same but India is not willing to do so because India is adamant on its policy of non acceptance.
The writer is Islamabad based Researcher and Freelancer
Family members of Colonel Sayad Khodai, a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, weep over his body in his car after he was reportedly shot by two assailants in Tehran, Iran, May 22, 2022. IRGC/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS
DUBAI, May 23 (Reuters) – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday that Tehran will avenge the death of Revolutionary Guards Colonel Hassan Sayad Khodai, who was shot dead by two people on a motorcycle in the capital.
“I have agreed for our security forces to seriously follow up on this matter and I have no doubt that revenge for the pure blood of our martyr will be taken,” Raisi said.
The semi-official ISNA news agency said members of an Israeli intelligence service network had been discovered and arrested by the Guards.
The killing on Sunday only reinforces the Guard’s determination to confront the enemies of Iran and to defend Iran’s security and national interests, Guards spokesman Ramazan Sharif said, quoted by the semi-official Mehr news agency. read more
“The thugs and terrorist groups affiliated with global oppression and Zionism will face consequences for their actions,” he said.
Israeli media said Khodai headed a unit of the Quds Force – the Revolutionary Guards’ overseas arm – planning attacks on Israelis abroad.
Khodai was “one of the defenders of the shrines”, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, referring to military personnel or advisers who Iran says fight on its behalf to protect Shi’ite sites in Iraq or Syria against groups such as Islamic State.
The killing comes at a time of uncertainty over the revival of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after months of stalled talks.
Sanam Vakil, deputy head of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House, said Khodai’s assassination was meant to unsettle Tehran as tensions escalate with its arch-enemy Israel over Iran’s nuclear programme.
“Should Israel be responsible for the attack, it is a reminder of Israel’s growing reach and destabilising capacity inside Iran,” Vakil said.
Ram Ben-Barak, a former deputy Mossad chief who now heads the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, said Khodai was a familiar name.
“Yes, we know it. I don’t want to get into the details of what happened or who did what. An assassination happened. Should I say I’m sorry he’s no longer with us? I’m not sorry,” he told
public radio station Kan.
At least six Iranian scientists and academics have been killed or attacked since 2010, several of them by assailants riding motorcycles, in attacks believed to have targeted Iran’s nuclear programme, which the West says is aimed at producing a bomb.
Iran denies this, saying the programme has peaceful purposes, and has denounced the killings as acts of terrorism carried out by Western intelligence agencies and Mossad. Israel has declined comment on such accusations.
Iranian chief justice Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said Khodai’s assailants would be punished.
Henry Rome of the Eurasia Group said the assassination appeared to be Israeli retaliation against the Revolutionary Guards for regional and global operations.
This approach is in line with Israel’s strategy of countering Iran’s actions not just in third countries but also inside Iran itself, attacking what Prime Minister Naftali Bennett calls the “head of the Octopus”, Rome said.
In March, Iran attacked Iraq’s northern city of Erbil with a dozen ballistic missiles in an assault on the capital of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region that appeared to target the United States and its allies.
Iranian state media said the Revolutionary Guards carried out the attack against Israeli “strategic centres” in Erbil, suggesting it was revenge for recent Israeli air strikes that killed Iranian military personnel in Syria.
Iran’s nuclear program is again set to take center stage when the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Board of Governors meets on June 6. Tehran continues to flagrantly violate its nuclear non-proliferation obligations, extending well beyond the 2015 nuclear deal.
Nevertheless, senior Biden administration officials continue to lobby for an agreement that was always doomed to fail. Their claims of the deal’s supposed benefits have been almost entirely belied by the stark reality of Iran’s actions since the adoption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) almost seven years ago.
The deal was built on the premise that Iran would accept a détente with the United States — or at the very least, was prepared to moderate its violent, destabilizing behavior, in exchange for economic (and nuclear) incentives. It took almost no time for Iran to prove that this premise was not just false but fantastical.
The years immediately following the conclusion of the JCPOA were marked by a surge in Iran’s aggression across the Middle East, a more than 30 percent jump in Iran’s “defense” budget and increased funding for terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Calls for “death to America” echoed in state-dominated mosques across the Islamic Republic.
Even as a narrow nuclear arms control agreement, the deal’s terms were always too weak, too limited, and too temporary to be effective at anything other than kicking the can down the road a bit. The deal is so bad that from the start, its proponents have relied on misdirection, overstatement and even outright lies to make their case.
Iran’s proven ability to violate the deal’s terms rapidly, once it chose to do so, exposed their insufficiency. It is undeniable that the regime deceived, stonewalled and harassed inspectors, despite promises of “unprecedented inspections.” A “one-year break-out time” was calculated using dubious accounting of Iran’s illegally-built uranium enrichment centrifuges. And the agreement’s restrictions on the nuclear program proved to be easily and quickly reversible, debunking the assertions that the JCPOA blocked all of Iran’s paths to a nuclear weapon.
With the original deal thoroughly discredited, Biden administration spokespeople have resorted to a new generation of falsehoods to sell a “return” to the JCPOA. Three stand out.
In his Senate confirmation hearing, now-Secretary of State Antony Blinken explained that then-President-elect Biden sought to return to the deal “as a platform … to seek a longer and stronger agreement.” Other Biden appointees echoed the argument, which at the time appeared to be a novel admission of the JCPOA’s weaknesses.
A return to the JCPOA would necessarily entail the lifting of many of the sanctions that the U.S. put in place after withdrawing from the deal in 2018. Neither Blinken nor any of his colleagues has explained why Iran would agree to negotiate a follow-on agreement that would impose tougher and longer-lasting restrictions, especially after the removal of the most significant sources of pressure on the regime. Their silence is unsurprising. After a year of serial capitulation to Iranian demands at the negotiating table, and Iran’s repeated, explicit rejection of the “longer and stronger” idea, the expression seems to have been dropped from the administration’s lexicon.
The second is Blinken’s claim that the United States seeks “a return to full implementation” of the JCPOA. Blinken knows full well that it is physically and temporally impossible to do so. Iran’s work on advanced centrifuges, high levels of uranium enrichment and uranium metallurgy — in violation of the original deal’s terms — has equipped the regime with irrevocable experience and knowledge needed to develop nuclear weapons.
The third falsehood is an old deception wrapped in a new layer of untruth. In 2015, President Obama, then-Vice President Joe Biden and others insisted that the JCPOA was limited to nuclear matters and would not affect the maintenance or imposition of American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, human rights violations, arms trafficking or other illicit activities. In practice, the U.S. subordinated all other policy concerns to the nuclear deal, including coming to terms with Iran’s complicity in the atrocities of the Syrian civil war and reportedly putting the brakes on a worldwide, multi-agency investigation of Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah.
The day is rapidly approaching when the president will have to contend with the most dangerous lie of them all: The JCPOA forces its supporters to pretend that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful when clearly it is not. With or without the JCPOA, Biden must formulate a genuine solution to the Iranian nuclear threat. If he fails, either Iran will acquire nuclear weapons or rival powers will try to use force to prevent that outcome, potentially sparking a broader regional war. To avoid these grave outcomes, Biden and his team must stop lying about the JCPOA — not just to Congress, the press and the public, but to themselves.
A young boy carrying a Hamas flag walks past Palestinian women gathered as they wait for the funeral of a young Palestinian girl, outside the family’s home in the Qalandiya Refugee camp in the West Bank, on December 18, 2015.
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
In a surprise move, the armed wing of Fatah in the Gaza Strip, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, announced on Friday that it has elected a new commander-in-chief, drawing sharp criticism from the group’s members in the West Bank.
Fatah activists claimed that the announcement was part of an attempt by Hamas to control the brigades and drive a wedge between its members in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Other activists said that they did not rule out the possibility that deposed Fatah operative Mohammed Dahlan, who is based in the United Arab Emirates and is considered an archrival of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, was behind the move.
Russia declares travel ban on 963 Americans including Biden and Blinken
Dahlan, a former PA security commander, is known to have many supporters in the Gaza Strip, where he was born and raised. He moved to the Gulf state in 2011 after a quarrel with Abbas.
Zakariya Zubeidi, then-leader of the al-Aqsa martyrs brigades looks on during a demonstration supporting Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank city of Jenin, February 10, 2005 (credit: REUTERS/SAEED DAHLAN)
In the West Bank, the group has hundreds of members, especially in the areas of Jenin and Nablus. Although they are affiliated with Fatah, these members have often challenged the faction’s political leadership in the West Bank and refused to hand over their weapons to the PA security forces.
The Gaza-based group said in a statement that its members held general elections and elected Salem Thabet as AMB “commander-in-chief.”
The elections, the first of their kind, were held under the name of Daoud Zubeidi of Jenin Refugee Camp, who was recently killed during clashes with the IDF.
He was the brother of Zakaria Zubeidi, the brigades’ commander who is in an Israeli prison. Zakaria is also a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council.
The election of Thabet surprised AMB members in the West Bank, who denied any knowledge of the elections.
“There were no elections and no one was elected as commander-in-chief of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades,” sources close to the group in the West Bank told the Jerusalem Palestinian daily Al-Quds.
The sources said that the elections that reportedly took place in Jabalya Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip did not include any representatives of the brigades in the West Bank or other parts of the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave.
Abu Thaer, a spokesperson for the AMB in the West Bank, also denied any knowledge of, or connection to, the elections in the Gaza Strip.
He said that the reported elections were part of a “calculated and systematic conspiracy against Fatah and its military wing.”
The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin said in a separate statement that Zakaria Zubeidi was still
“We, the family of the martyr Daoud Zubeidi and the prisoner Zakaria Zubeidi, declare that we have no connection to the groups that carry the name of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the Gaza Strip, which held suspicious elections,” the family said in a statement. “This is the first time ever that we hear about public elections for the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.”
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — When the U.S. and South Korean leaders meet Saturday, North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile program, already a major focus, may receive extra attention if intelligence predictions of an imminent major weapons demonstration by the North, which is struggling with a COVID-19 outbreak, are right.
What’s less clear, however, is whether the meeting between Joe Biden and newly inaugurated Yoon Suk Yeol will produce a meaningfully new way to handle a nuclear threat that has bedeviled the allies for decades.
There’s worry in Seoul that Washington is slipping back to the Obama administration’s “strategic patience” policy of ignoring North Korea until it demonstrates seriousness about denuclearization, an approach that was criticized for neglecting the North as it made huge strides in building its nuclear arsenal.
U.S. and South Korean intelligence officials say North Korea may welcome Biden to the region — he’s also visiting Japan — with a ballistic missile test or its first detonation of a nuclear device since 2017.
There’s little chance of any real nuclear diplomacy. North Korea has ignored South Korean and U.S. offers of assistance after its admission of a COVID-19 outbreak last week, dashing hopes that such cooperation could help ease nuclear tensions or even lead to talks.
Yoon, a conservative former prosecutor who took office on May 10, has said he wants to strengthen ties with Washington while enhancing South Korea’s missile strike and defense capabilities. He has also called for the resumption of large-scale U.S.-South Korean military exercises. Those were downsized or suspended over virus worries and during ultimately fruitless nuclear talks between former President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Biden may raise with Yoon a desire for a broader role from South Korea in the alliance, moving away from a focus mostly on North Korea as U.S. foreign policy attention shifts toward confronting China and Russia.
Yoon will likely use the meeting with Biden to declare South Korea’s participation in the Indo Pacific Economic Framework, a new U.S.-led regional partnership aimed at promoting cooperation in trade, supply chain resiliency, technology and other issues. That will almost certainly anger China, South Korea’s largest trading partner.
Yoon also will seek a robust statement from Biden reaffirming a U.S. commitment to provide “extended deterrence” to South Korea and a vow to defend its ally with its full range of military capabilities, including nuclear weapons, in the event of war with North Korea, said Go Myong-hyun, an analyst at Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies.
Yoon may seek to defuse worries in Seoul that Washington is ignoring the North Korean threat.
“For South Korea, it’s crucial to protect itself from North Korea’s nuclear missiles, so Seoul is hoping that the United States will show more aggressive and substantial action to resolve the North Korean threat,” said Moon Seong Mook, an analyst at South Korea’s Korea Research Institute for National Strategy.
The United States, for its part, wants strengthened security cooperation with South Korea and Japan, Moon said, and a stronger role for Seoul in the region.
As a presidential candidate, Yoon criticized liberal predecessor Moon Jae-in’s foreign policy, describing his warm approach to North Korea as “subservient” and accusing him of undermining South Korea’s alliance with the United States and of being too soft on China.
But now that Yoon is president, he’s unlikely to try to alienate China or pressure North Korea too much, said Kim Yeol Soo, an expert at South Korea’s Korea Institute for Military Affairs.
Yoon should instead try to keep alive the possibility of a dialogue with North Korea while consulting with the United States over ways to better cope with the North Korean threat, Kim Yeol Soo said. Challenges posed by North Korea’s escalating COVID-19 crisis and its decaying economy may eventually provide new diplomatic opportunities to keep its nuclear advancement in check, he said.
North Korea’s state media have reported nearly 2 million suspected COVID-19 cases and 63 deaths a week after it acknowledged an omicron outbreak last Thursday. The situation is almost certainly worse because the country lacks virus tests and other health care resources and may be underreporting deaths to soften the political impact on Kim Jong Un.
South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers Thursday that North Korea will likely seek help from its main ally, China, but may reach out to the United States or South Korea as a last resort, according to Ha Tae-keung, one of the lawmakers who attended the closed-door briefing.
The United States and South Korea have long struggled to find effective ways to counter destabilizing threats from the North.
North Korea has tested missiles 16 separate times this year, including, in March, when its first flight of an intercontinental ballistic missile since 2017 demonstrated a potential range including the entire U.S. mainland.
It is also expanding its arsenal of short-range solid-fuel missiles targeting South Korea, which hosts about 28,500 U.S. troops. Kim Jong Un recently warned that North Korea would proactively use nuclear weapons if threatened or provoked, suggesting an escalation in its nuclear doctrine.
“What we need now is a kind of strengthened deterrence that prevents provocations, rather than the kind that reacts to them after they happen,” said Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at Seoul’s Korea National Diplomatic Academy.
Some South Korean conservatives have called for the government to ask the United States to bring nuclear weapons back to South Korea after removing them in the 1990s.