It's customary for allied nations to hold periodic joint military exercises to hone their war skills and hone a state of readiness to tackle unforeseen foreign hostilities and natural calamities.
But the annual Washington-Seoul military drill invariably raises tension and tempers on the Korean peninsula, with Pyongyang getting belligerent.
Of late, North Korea has been engaged in a no-holds-barred missile-firing mission in response to the US-South Korean drill. In the last few weeks, Pyongyang has fired about 70 short-range rockets into the sea, including 30 last Saturday alone. And on Thursday it fired two medium-range ballistic missiles in gross violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
It’s not just been a fusillade of firearms, the recluse state has also issued a fresh warning that it would take “nuclear measures” if the US does not end what the pariah state terms as provocation. Given the past offensives and the confrontational attitude of Pyongyang, such threats cannot be overlooked.
And at the same time, the possibility of the North conducting another nuclear test or firing another intercontinental ballistic missile cannot be ruled out.
It’s sad that the North’s obstinate and unyielding policies have resulted in a halt to the six-nation nuclear disarmament talks since 2008.
China, Pyongyang’s sole ally, often cuts an embarrassed figure amid North Korea’s aggressive posturing. Nevertheless, Beijing with its clout and influence can continue to push Pyongyang on a corrective trajectory that would improve its economy and ease the humanitarian crisis under which the country has been reeling for decades.
Meanwhile, international efforts have to be revived on disarmament talks to rein in the reclusive state and pre-empt it from nuclear provocation that periodically shatters the calm in the region.