South Korea holds the key to de-escalation
North Korea is under increasing pressure to forgo further nuclear testing as UN sanctions bite down on the region causing possible disruption to commercial flights.
A new report from Maplecroft suggests that the isolated nation is “extremely unlikely to attack any US targets” for fear of overwhelming retaliation that could pose a threat to the regime.
“The risks of naval skirmishes are increasing, particularly around Yeongpyeong Island in the East China Sea. If war risks escalate, commercial flights from South Korea to mainland US and Japan will probably be rerouted,” said Maplecroft.
The report also said North Korea is unlikely to achieve its immediate objective of relief from international sanctions, or an end to or at least reduction in US-South Korean military drills. As a result, its commitment to a nuclear deterrent will remain firm, as it perceives this to be the only meaningful guarantee of regime survival.
The most likely route for de-escalation to the current crisis would be an offer by South Korea for an increase in food and fuel assistance to the North over the coming months.