‘World should be on its toes between April 10-15’ as N. Korea conflict escalation possible

Nile Bowie
Nile Bowie is an independent writer and current affairs commentator based in Singapore. Originally from New York City, he has lived in the Asia-Pacific region for nearly a decade and was previously a columnist with the Malaysian Reserve newspaper, in addition to working actively in non-governmental organisations and creative industries. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.
North Korea could heighten tensions very soon - between April 10 and April 15, political analyst Nile Bowie told RT. Pyongyang says it will not be able to protect its embassies after April 10, while the founder of North Korea's birthday is April 15.

“I think there is a real risk here of seeing some kind of military component, some kind of escalation to this conflict between April 10th and April 15th, so I think the world should certainly be on its toes,” Bowie said.

He added that the North is threatening the US and South Korea “to show the world that Kim Jong-un’s regime is different than his father’s and his grandfather’s. It’s more aggressive and less predictable. I think this is ultimately a dangerous development.”

RT:Is the announcement to withdraw its workers from the Kaesong industrial zone a sign North Korea is ready to step things up even further?

Nile Bowie: Unfortunately so. This site was the last site for inter-Korean cooperation of any kind, and the North Koreans earned about 90 million dollars a year from this site in the impoverished border region in North Korea. A lot of workers relied on the money so this is ultimately a major negative for the North Korean people in that region. The South Korean military has pointed out that on the eastern coast of North Korea, Pyongyang has set up a missile launch site and over the next few days, I think it’s very possible that they could back up this huffing and puffing with a show of force and we should also note that on April 15, it’s the founder of North Korea’s birthday so usually around this time, they mark this event with great celebrations and the like. And they have issued the diplomatic statements to their embassies that they will no longer be able to protect them after April 10th so I think there is a real risk here of seeing some kind of military component, some kind of escalation to this conflict between April 10th and April 15th, so I think the world should certainly be on its toes.

RT:What is Pyongyang trying to achieve by threatening the US and South Korea?

NB: I think there are several components to this. One component is building up the tension and continuing these threats and rhetoric and once it eventually tones down the rhetoric, it thinks it will be rewarded with economic concessions or food aid. The other main component is to show the world that Kim Jong-un’s regime is different than his father’s and his grandfather’s. More aggressive and less predictable and I think this is ultimately a dangerous development.

RT:Washington delayed its missile test, but is still ramping up its military presence in the region …what's it trying to do?

NB: I don’t really buy that line personally, because it canceled its intercontinental ballistic missile test – at least I think it was an ICBM – on the western coast of the US because it didn’t want to make it seem like it was provoking North Korea, but if it really had that intention, it wouldn’t have flown B2 nuclear capable bombers or sent in F22 stealth fighters into North Korea. I think these moves are ultimately very provocative, do nothing to improve the situation, they escalate hostilities, and I think ultimately it creates animosity and allows the Kim Jong-un regime to consolidate power because it legitimizes their rhetoric that the US is coaxing nuclear war on the peninsula so I think cool heads really must prevail on this situation. I think it’s high time that Russia and China put more pressure on dialogue and bringing the parties’ concerned to the table because it’s really getting to a situation where it’s going to be problematic if this continues.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.