‘Even without nukes, military conflict with N. Korea will turn South into desert’
If the current situation in East Asia is not resolved, a number of countries “will be living under a threat of a nuclear volcano erupting,” Russian diplomat and an expert in Asian studies, professor Georgy Toloraya told RT.com.
“Everyone understands perfectly well that for North Korea, if it initiates an aggressive strike, a military conflict will mean a complete and immediate destruction, because no one can deny the US military might,” Toloraya said.
“However, for the US, attempts to solve this problem militarily also bring on a retaliatory strike by North Korea that would turn South Korea into a desert,” he warned, saying the North doesn't even need nuclear weapons for that.
While Pyongyang's artillery is able to reach Seoul, the entire territory of South Korea will also “be no good for life,” as Pyongyang’s missiles – even without nuclear warheads – might hit nuclear facilities in the South, he explained. He said there are some 30 such sites close to North Korea’s border.
“Japan will suffer damage too, as well as the US military bases there,” the expert added. Toloraya emphasized that “diplomacy and negotiations” are the only way out of the crisis.
“All kinds of pressure [on Pyongyang] have been tested over the years, including sanctions. But none led to any change in North Korea's position,” he said.
“No one in their right mind can be really thinking about the doomsday scenario. In my opinion, Americans are bluffing when they scare not so much Pyongyang but rather China with a possibility of a military conflict.”
Pointing out that Moscow has been long insisting on diplomatic channels to ease tensions in the region by listening to all sides, Toloraya underlined that “it's in everyone's interests to diminish the threat,” as the possibility of an accidental and irreversible mistake can never be excluded.
“The thing is, the most bloody wars sometimes begin by accident or by mistake, this has happened in history. The higher the level of armament and the hotter the tensions in the Korean Peninsula, the bigger a chance of an accidental turn of events, with the subsequent escalation,” he said.
Another expert in military history, international relations and conflict resolution studies, Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov also spoke about the threat of such “accidental” scenarios.
“There is always danger, especially when such imperfect missiles as the ones used by North Korea are involved. There is a risk that a missile might veer off course, that it won't reach its destination,” he told RT.com.
A military conflict in the region will affect not only North Korea, South Korea and Japan, but also Russia and China, he said. Beijing, he said, “might not to be harmed military-wise, but will suffer in other respects.”
“Certain forces in the US are striving to de-stabilize the situation in the region, in the same way that they have destabilized it in the Middle East,” Ivashov suggested, saying that diplomatic initiatives should be aimed at both Washington and Pyongyang, “for the first not to conduct military games, and the other to stop test launches.”
“We should treat North Korea with understanding too. What North Koreans are asking for is a guarantee of their security, which no one gives them. They are a pariah-state. They want to save their regime, which does exist – whether people like it or not. They don’t like [the] joint US and South Korean drills being held near their borders. This can all be solved, if only there is a will from the US before all.”
Moscow, together with Beijing, have long been advocating a “double freeze” strategy which would see Pyongyang suspend its missile launches in exchange for an end to the military exercises near its borders. The proposal has been rejected by Washington, with the State Department categorically stating that the US, along with its ally South Korea, are within their rights and will continue their joint military maneuvers.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.