US, South Korea raise threat level

NY Times:

One day after North Korea warned of a possible attack against the South, the United States and South Korea ordered their forces here to their highest alert for three years, increasing surveillance flights and satellite reconnaissance to counter what officials termed a “grave threat.”

The move was the latest sign of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula after North Korea conducted its second nuclear test on Monday, sparking a confrontation with South Korea and the international community that has built into ever more bellicose rhetoric. North Korea reinforced its menacing language by test-firing six short-range missiles earlier in the week.

The South Korean Defense Ministry said allied troops, including, 28,000 U.S. soldiers based in South Korea, raised their Watch Condition, or Watchcon, to the second-highest level from Watchcon 3 to Watchcon 2.

South Korea has put its military on such a high level of alert only five times since hostilities in the three-year Korean War ended in an armistice in 1953, most recently when North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in October 2006.

The upgraded alert provides for a significant increase in the use of reconnaissance planes and spy satellites, as well as a more vigorous gathering and analysis of electronic signals from the North, ministry officials said.

The Defense Ministry declined to confirm South Korean news reports that its military has moved or planned to move warships and artillery to islands near the western sea border with North Korea. But a South Korean military official said that in recent months, North Korea has increased training exercises among its coastal artillery units opposite the South Korean islands.

A war may start in fights over those islands. I haven't seen anything on North Korea's amphibious capabilities, but they do have the capacity to fire on the islands.

The latest outburst from North Korea is in reaction to the South Korean decision to join with the US and others in searching North Korea ships to halt proliferation of their nuclear capability. I think the North hoped to gain money for their failed economy by selling the nukes to states like Syria and Iran among others, and the embargo is seen as a direct threat to those ambitions.

They see a threat to their commerce in nuclear weapons as an existential threat, because they are so desperate for money to keep their despotic regime in power. Because of that they may chose to go down in flames.

Danger Room reports that the US is beefing up South Korea's F-16 so they can use preceision munitions. They are also adding more surface to air missiles.


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