In light of on-going tensions between the two Korean countries of the North and South on the Korean peninsula, the South have demonstrated military exercises in protest to the firing of artillery shells on the small island of Yeonpyang Island, though have only stated that these are regular military drills. This has been the largest firing military drill since the signing of the 1953 Armistice with over 1,000 South Korean artillery shells involved along with laser designated bombs from F-15K’s. The KCNA state run news agency of North Korea have accused the South Koreans of being “puppet warmongers” which isn’t an unfamiliar term used by this news agency.
With these military exercises going on, the North have not responded with military drills of their own in-kind and no military action has been taken. Though likely the level of precaution from the North Korean military has been upped a level in light of these “drills”. Though they have been notified of these drills taking place are being strictly conducted under the supervision of the United Nations. (UN)
The military armoured vehicles involved in this military exercise from the South have been the K-9 Thunder self-propelled artillery which fires 155 mm calibre rounds and weighs in at 47 tonnes. This armoured vehicle has an effective range of 56,000 meters (36 miles) depending on the type of ammunition used. Since this range is so high and where these self-propelledartillery are located in Pocheon, means this vehicle can fire into and around the DMZ and further which is just 20 miles from the location of these K9 Thunder self-propelled artillery vehicles. The K1A1 tank, armed with a 120 mm capability has also been seen firing at Pocheon mountains; to which end outclasses the Soviet-era tanks which the North Koreans possess however have modified over the years. 81 mm mortars are reported to have been used during the exercise as well as 105-mm and M61Vulcan Gatling guns which fire at extremely high RPM (6 barreled); 20 mm rounds. However it is the F-15K which would make precision strikes into North Korea if it were to respond by firing into South Korean territory. – While also 10 South Korean warships were at the ready to respond if any attacks were to take place by North Korea. Cobra attack helicopters were also part of the drill along with other military vehicles. These exercises are said to have taken place away from North Korea for a consistent 91 minutes while the mountainous Pocheon (20 mi) was fired upon also as an exercise of power.
Typically we can analyse and say that this is a show of force of the power projection of the South Korean military in recent aggressive acts such as the sinking of the ROKS Cheonan which killed 46 sailors and more recently the killing of 4 South Koreans and dozens wounded on Yeonpyang Island. The South Korean people are angry over these attacks and to do nothing would be a political disaster for the current administration and could conceive the idea that the South are weak to the North. However South Korea have also been criticised of trying to provoke war.
The minister of the North Korean armed forces has stated [23rd / December / 2010] that they have now enabled or waged a so called “sacred war” against the South to utilize “its nuclear deterrents” in response to these “drills”. It is not believed that the North have the capability or nuclear materials for a nuclear bomb or missile. Whether this is an empty threat of sorts or “empty rhetoric” is one to question upon what the North exactly means by using their “nuclear deterrents”.
It is likely that the North feel threatened and if they do strike back, they will feel the military might of perhaps the US and of course the South Koreans. Which is why they use the rhetoric of them having capabilities of a “nuclear deterrent” to of course deter any attacks. The keyword mentioned here is “deterrent”, to deter is to say that there will be high consequences of an attack if an attack were to take place. Thus there is no thought of an initial attack as a country such as South Korea certainly doesn’t want to deal with a nuclear war, even if considered an empty threat; there is no way to verify this information. It is a mind complex of sorts, to which end you don’t really know if the North are bluffing. What have they to lose at this moment in time by doing this? Nothing. In fact by stating they have nuclear deterrents deters any idea of attacking North Korea at-all. Thus this pretext or idea behind them stating a “nuclear deterrent” of sorts is one to ponder upon.
Both countries have come very close to war, even though technically still at war; however, with the events in the year 2010 there has been no other time where hostilities have peaked this high since the signing of the 1953 Armistice agreement.