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End peninsula tit-for-tat

China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-07 08:08

The United Nations Security Council is mulling over a draft resolution that would reportedly impose some of the strongest sanctions ever against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It is important that such sanctions be kept at a moderate level and all the parties concerned exercise the utmost restraint so that the current vicious cycle of retaliations does not continue.

Pyongyang's third nuclear test on Feb 12 has triggered a chain reaction of tit-for-tat responses and raised tensions on the Korean Peninsula. If the cycle of quid pro quo cannot be broken, it will dim hopes for an easing of tensions in the near future.

True, a new round of sanctions might drive home the message that the rest of the world opposes Pyongyang's nuclear program in the strongest terms. But sanctions are not the best way to resolve the DPRK nuclear issue.

Since 2006, the Security Council has already imposed three rounds of sanctions against the DPRK. But Pyongyang seems to have advanced even further with its nuclear pursuits. During this course, the security outlook on the peninsula has gone from bad to worse as the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan have resorted to an increasingly hardline policy toward Pyongyang.

Apart from imposing unilateral sanctions, the US and its allies have held military drills with much higher frequency in the region. Their intensified military drills conducted since 2009 have played a part in escalating tensions and deepened hostility between the sides.

On Friday, the US and ROK troops launched their annual joint drills, while separate computer-simulated drills are scheduled from March 11 to 21, reportedly involving 10,000 US troops and 200,000 ROK troops. The unprecedented scale and the participation of a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, F-22 Raptor stealth fighters and the nuclear-capable B-52 bombers are certainly not a message of peace. In response, Pyongyang has threatened to nullify the Korean War Armistice Agreement inked in 1953.

With neither party showing the slightest sign of reconciliation now, the situation on the peninsula is being pushed to a dangerous edge. To prevent this undesirable scenario from coming true, all the parties concerned should be aware of the dire consequences if things get out of control, which is not impossible with both sides rattling their sabers.

(China Daily 03/07/2013 page9)

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