W. R. (Bill) Collier- Yonhap News agency is reporting that 50 of North Korea’s submarines have surged into the waters surrounding the “hermit kingdom” and their location is unknown at this time. As the submarines are conventional and older, it is possible that sensors are already at work trying to detect the submarines, however if the vessels are on battery power and have extended range batteries, detection without active means would prove difficult.
UPDATE– talks have now, as of the 24th at mid-day in Korea, resumed between the two sides, and they include South Korean National Security Adviser Kim Kwan-jin, South Korean Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo, Kim Yang-gon, the top North Korean official in charge of inter-Korean affairs, and Hwang Pyong-so. Hong Yong-pyo is known to be close confidant of Kim Jong-on, and so analysts inside Korea are hopeful for a de-escalation, however there is still not word on the missing submarines which have surged.
The surging of the submarine fleet, which consists of 70 submarines, is matched by the deployment to the border of artillery troops and supplies, however North Korea’s bombastic rhetoric, and even direct threats of war, have not been matched by commensurate action. At present the North Koreans are protesting US and South Korean joint exercises, which they do every year, and which usually involves threats of war, which are not followed through.
However, for the first time, the US had cancelled its annual military exercises with North Korea, according to an ABC News report. However, US Assistant Secretary of Defense David Shear announced today- “We suspended part of the exercise temporarily in order to allow our side to coordinate with the ROK (Republic of Korea) side on the subject of the exchange fire across the DMZ, and the exercise is being conducted now according to plan.”
The move was seen as a concession to the North and, whole meant to de-escalate tensions, has only elicited further demands. Wide ranging talks, lasting 10 hours, in the so-called “peace village”of Panmunjom are seen as a sign that the North wants broad negotiations on a range of topic, and will use the halt in joint military exercises both to bolster its own image at home and to exact more demands in the future. But talks that were scheduled to resume on Sunday have not been reported on yet, and may not have happened, and, meanwhile, propaganda broadcasts from the South, suspended for a time, have resumed while the North has declared such broadcasts “an act of war.”
None, of this changes the fact that the 5o submarines remain deployed and that the artillery forces remain on standby.
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