North Korean ruler Kim Jong-il ordered his military to prepare for all-out war after Barack Obama sent the US military to work with Seoul to prepare for future aggression and plan a joint submarine maneuver for the near future.
Tuesday, May 25, military observers in the Korean Peninsula and Japan were predicting limited skirmishes on land, sea and air. Some sources found North Korea capable of going all the way to test-firing a nuclear warhead for the first time.
Monday, May 24, President Barack Obama ordered the 28,000 US soldiers stationed in Korea to "work closely with the Republic of Korea to ensure readiness and deter future aggression." President Lee Myung-bak said Pyongyang must pay a price for the torpedo attack on a South Korean Chenan that killed 46 sailors in March. Officials accused Kim of personally ordering a submarine to sink the corvette.
Seoul also suspended inter-Korean trade, investment and non-humanitarian aid and banned North Korean merchant ships from passing South Korean waters.
Washington and Seoul have been hoping Beijing would step in to cool the crisis and avert a clash on China's doorstep. But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who attended the two-day annual US-Chinese conference in Beijing, failed to persuade Chinese President Hu Jintao to rein in the North Korean ruler and calm the crisis.
China is also reluctant to joint South Korean plans backed by the US and Japan to bring the issue before the UN Security Council for further sanctions against the North. Past penalties for its nuclear activities have already ravaged the North Korean economy.
debkafile's military sources point to the Korean crisis's grave repercussions for current Middle East war tensions. North Korea and Iran have worked closely together in the development of their clandestine nuclear weapons programs. The two rogue powers often pursue the same diplomatic tactics for fobbing off international pressures. For Syrian president Bashar Assad, the brazenly defiant Kim Jong-Il is a role model. Above all, Pyongyang is the primary source of nuclear technology and sophisticated missiles for Iran and Syria.
The plutonium reactor which the Israeli Air Force destroyed in September 2007 in northern Syria was made in North Korea and, according to debkafile's intelligence sources, North Korean nuclear scientists and technicians are back at work in the country.
While Israel regards the Korean conflict as remote, Tehran and Damascus are studying its every twist and turn and drawing lessons on the responses of the world powers for their own use. They are especially interested in China's handling of this crisis as a pointer to whether or not it will veto the sanctions before the UN Security Council against Iran.
By and large, Beijing seeks to manipulate the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs as levers for reducing American influence in Asia and the Middle East alike. Therefore, a decision by Hu to go easy on Pyongyang in the current crisis may well be a good-news signal for Tehran.