- Thomson Reuters
While North Korea defies international sanctions by testing ballistic missiles powerful enough to range US cities thousands of miles away, the US’s annual joint military exercises with South Korea look set to further stoke the burgeoning crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
“The situation is bad now, and it’s going to get worse in August … it’s going to get much more dangerous in August,” Joel Wit, a senior fellow at US-Korea Institute who previously worked on North Korea policy at the State Department, said on a call with reporters organized by 38 North, a website for informed analysis of the Korean defense situation.
August is when the American and South Korean militaries hold Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, one of the world’s largest annual military exercises and the target of harsh rebukes from North Korea.
“That could create even more tension,” Wit said. “I think we need to be to be very careful about aggravating the situation.”
“But there’s a bargain here,” Wit added, “a quid pro quo here.” North Korea has previously offered to suspend its nuclear development if the US and South Korea suspend their annual war games. In the past, the US has rejected this offer because the drills are legal and North Korea’s nuclear development is not.
But with North Korea pushing closer to a nuclear-capable missile designed to accurately reach major US cities, Witt said it may be time to revisit that position.
- KCNA via Reuters
“It’s really the best point in time for a US president to do it,” Witt said of peace talks with North Korea.
“Trump is insulated from any Republican criticism, which has stopped Democrats before,” Witt said. “He thinks outside of the box. He might be the right person to do it.”