North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is visiting South Korea and Japan this week to discuss advancing new joint efforts on the international stage, from the war in Ukraine to threats to the world. new threat in East Asia.
“The growing threat”
In Madrid (Spain) at that time, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol lamented “North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats continue to increase” while “the global context is facing with growing uncertainties”.
And then, he proposed to NATO: “In order to lead North Korea on the path of denuclearization, we must make it clear that the international community’s will to denuclearize North Korea is stronger than the reckless will develop their nuclear weapons and missile programs”.
At that time, from the beginning of 2022 to June 5, 2022, North Korea had conducted 31 ballistic missile launches, surpassing the previous annual record. Pyongyang also tested two long-range cruise missiles in January of the same year.
From August 17, 2022 onwards, Pyongyang resumed testing of cruise missiles, bringing the total number of ballistic missile launches and types in the whole year 2022 to more than 95 (according to the New York Times on 2-2). 1-2023).
From the NATO summit on June 29, 2022 to January 29, 2023, exactly seven months have passed. During that time, North Korea launched at least 60 ballistic missiles and types.
According to international relations expert Imran Khalid (the writer of The Geopolitics), just three hours into the new year 2023, North Korea tested super-large multiple rocket launchers “to send a clear and strong message to the outside world of its intention to continue expanding nuclear and missile development programs in the coming days.”
From that, it can be understood why, in the past two days, January 29 and 30, South Korea “rolled out the red carpet” for the NATO secretary-general, continuing the route of “engaging” with NATO that President Yoon Suk Yeol had announced. proposed at the NATO summit in late June last year.
Of course, from its side, North Korea considers the “closerness” between South Korea and NATO since last June’s NATO summit as an unpredictable risk.
“The trip of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to Korea and Japan is a premise for confrontation and war, because this move brings the dark clouds of a new Cold War to the Asia-Pacific.” North Korea’s official news agency KCNA stated.
Also because he appreciates Korea’s new position in NATO, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg came to Seoul this time to thank South Korea for providing non-lethal aid items to Ukraine, and at the same time calling on South Korea to increase its support. military aid to Ukraine, specifically ammunition.
The NATO leader reassured the South Korean president that some other countries also banned the supply of weapons to countries in conflict, but have changed this policy.
If Seoul nods, what will Seoul get in return? This is known only to Mr. Stoltenberg, Mr. Yoon and the Korean foreign and defense ministers.
The US side, of course. Therefore, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on January 30 also flew to Seoul to meet with President Yoon and his counterpart Lee Jong Sup.
Before Austin’s visit, the US Department of Defense’s homepage on the afternoon of January 30 still warned that “the militaries of the two countries will seek to increase joint readiness training, including the resumption of firing drills.” live ammunition in this country.”
The reason for this announcement is because since the end of last year, South Korea and the US have tended to suspend military exercises at the request of Pyongyang to facilitate negotiations…
However, perhaps the two sides see the need for the resumption of the exercises when Seoul found itself “out of hand” in the face of infiltration activities by North Korean drones late last year.
But the problem is not only that but also because of America’s tendency to move away, starting with the US Marines leaving Okinawa of Japan to withdraw to Guam of the US…
Most recently, on January 19, the US Department of Defense ordered US forces in South Korea to arrange to send equipment to Ukraine.
Of course, the US Department of Defense also included a reassurance that “will have no impact on the activities of this force as well as its ability to fulfill its ironclad commitment to protect its ally, the Republic of Korea”.
Another concern of South Korea is that if it agrees to NATO’s request to increase military assistance to Ukraine, what will Russia “small” for North Korea?
NATO urges South Korea to increase support for Ukraine
During a meeting with President Yoon Suk Yeol in Seoul on January 30, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged South Korea to step up military support to Ukraine.
Mr. Stoltenberg explained that events in Europe and North America are related to other regions.
He said that if Russia “won” in Ukraine, it would send a message to other countries, like China, that they can get what they want by force. Therefore, NATO wants to strengthen cooperation with Asia to help manage global threats.
However, Mr. Yoon said that South Korean law prohibits the supply of weapons to countries in conflict. However, Mr. Stoltenberg said that many countries such as Germany, Sweden and Norway have adjusted their policies to export arms to Kiev.