Continuing (Nuclear) Tensions in East Asia

Tensions are continuing to mount between North Korea, its neighbors, and the US. The New York Times reported Tuesday that N. Korea is restarting a nuclear reactor to produce plutonium for weapons. Despite this, and other recent developments, the White House feels its all just blustery bravado. Whatever the bravado, however, the US still moved a missile defense system to Guam, according to The Guardian.

Even my local paper is getting in on the action (via the AP): “North Korea warned early today that its military has been cleared to attack the United States using “smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear” weapons, while the United States said it was strengthening protection in the region and seeking to defuse the situation. Despite the intense rhetoric, analysts do not expect a nuclear attack by North Korea, which knows that the move could trigger a destructive, suicidal war that no one in the region wants. The North is not believed to have the ability to launch nuclear-tipped missiles, but its other nuclear capabilities aren’t fully known.” I am not reassured.

And to make matters worse in the region, the tensions between Japan and China are increasing, as The New York Times also reported that Japan simulated a battle recapturing an island from a clearly Chinese invader. There is obviously cause for concern, as Martin Fackler writes: “Until recently, a simulated battle against Chinese forces would have been unthinkably provocative for Japan, which renounced the right to wage war — or even to possess a military — after its march across Asia in World War II resulted in crushing defeat.”Again, this is cause for considerable concern.

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