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Korean Peninsula Tensions Escalate, Seoul Military Urges Readiness To Face ‘Serious’ Security Situation

June 18, 2020 (EIRNS)—Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have escalated significantly over the past 24 hours, raising serious concerns in the Seoul government and among its military leadership.

Yesterday, North Korea’s official newspaper Rodong Sinmun, warned that the recent demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office was “just the beginning,” and that there could be further retaliatory steps against the South “that go far beyond the imagination,” Yonhap News agency reported today. “The explosive sound of justice that will continue to come out could go far beyond the imagination of those who make a noise about what could unfold,” the daily threatened. “Our military’s patience has run out. The military’s announcement that it is mulling a detailed military action plan should be taken seriously.”

Yesterday, Yonhap noted, the North Korean military said it planned to send troops to the closed joint industrial complex in Kaesong as well as to the Mount Kumgang tourist zone on the east coast. And, it warned, it would also restore guard posts that had been previously removed from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), and resume regular military exercises near the inter-Korean border. This afternoon, United Press International quoted South Korea’s News 1 news service saying that North Korean troops were indeed stationed on the north side of the DMZ at the vacated guard posts, but then cited a source at Seoul’s joint chiefs of staff who added that “so far, no direct [military] action has been confirmed.”

However, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Suh Wook and his Naval counterpart Vice Adm. Boo Suk-jong held videoconferences today with their respective senior commanders and ordered frontline units to be fully prepared for any eventuality that might arise, according to Yonhap. “The recent spike in military tensions has made clear the importance of readiness and high degree of discipline during serious times,” General Suh said. Admiral Boo delivered a similar message to his commanders. Also, at today’s weekly meeting of South Korea’s National Security Council, discussion focussed on the country’s military surveillance and defense posture, although NSC leaders also asserted that, according to Yonhap, “Seoul’s position that inter-Korean agreements should be implemented at any cost and agreed to continue efforts to stop tensions from further escalating on the peninsula.”

Speaking today at a luncheon of ambassadors from the 22 countries that participated in the Korean War, South Korea’s Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo stated that, “we will maintain a firm defense readiness posture” and respond firmly to any provocation, while at the same time “managing the situation in a stable manner so as to avoid further escalation, or military crisis.”

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