Why North Korea is mobilizing for war

Most Americans have heard of the Korean War. Many are not aware, however, that the war never ended—and many more don’t know that South Korea has never signed the 1953 Armistice.

Like a simmering pot, the Korean conflict has been on the verge of boiling over for many years. In the past several months the heat has been ratcheted up. During the past several weeks the political stew in the pot has again reached the boiling point. The sinking of the SKorean naval vessel, Cheonan, in the Yellow Sea by a NKorean mini-sub that launched an unprovoked torpedo attack has lit the fuse on a possible resumption of an all out war.

NKorea has already reaffirmed it’s at war with the United States

During 2009, dictator Kim Jong-il announced that his country no longer would abide by the Armistice that was suggested by India and agreed to by the United Nations, U.S., Russia, China and NKorea in 1953. SKorea never signed the agreement.

The NKorean leader then announced that his country considered itself fully at war with the U.S. Immediately afterward the NKoreans ramped up their weapons sales—including nuclear weapons technology and long range missile parts—to Iran and Syria. They have since expanded that to include Venezuela, Cuba and possibly Nicaragua.

Although the arms sales-primarily WMDs-to Third World dictatorships have kept the NKorean government from total collapse, most of its people are starving and the only well-fed and well-clothed NKoreans are the military and the political elite.

An army one million strong

NKorea has built and maintained a well-equipped military force that experts estimate numbers about one million. The army is dedicated and swears allegiance to the country’s tyrant.

Much of the army is deployed within 50 miles of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that roughly follows the 49th Parallel dividing the two Koreas.

NKorean experts have have stated for the record any full-blown hostilities that erupt between the North and South will lead to the death of more than 100,000 SKoreans living in Seoul within the first hour.

The casualties would not be inflicted directly by the NKorean army, but by the well-armed rocketry corps. With an estimated tens of thousands of rockets able to reach Seoul within a matter of minutes, the bombardment of the city would be widespread, lethal and devastating. The NKorean rockets are armed with conventional high-explosives, nerve gas and bio-warheads.

SKorean defense forces are augmented by 28,000 American troops. Although the number at one time was well above 50,000, during the last decade many of the troops have been withdrawn from the Peninsula.

Military experts agree that during the first few days of a resurgence of the Korean War, up to half of the American force stationed their may suffer casualties.

China, a wild card

Although NKorea’s population is near starvation—only the leaders, bureaucrats and one million man army is well-fed and clothed—China provides some meager subsistence in the form of food and oil. But the Chinese have been playing the West against its puppet state for decades and has been utilizing the Korean Peninsula and especially their NKorean allies as both political and military destabilizing factors.

During the Korean War, Chinese forces joined the NKoreans and fought air and ground battles against the United Nations, American and SKorean forces. Whether they will lend air support to NKorea if another war breaks out is a complete unknown: there are both advantages and disadvantages for involvement by China.

The Chinese may have already signaled their hand by their stance on the torpedo attack. Despite the fact the SKoreans recovered damning forensic evidence-parts of the torpedo fragment on the bottom of the Yellow Sea contained explosive manufactured in NKorea and casings etched with NKorean markings—China has said the SKoreans haven’t proved their case.

NKorea’s advanced mini-subs

The North’s fleet of advanced mini-subs, an SSC Sang-o Class submersible, can carry two torpedoes. The older NKorean subs have been determined By the SKorean navy to be based on a former Yugoslavian design that the NKorean military adopted. Those 1990 versions were retrofitted to carry the two-man submersible and capable of sea launch. Other NKorean surface vessels disguised as freighters can also carry the mini-subs.

The newest generation of the NKorean mini-sub has stealth abilities, a longer range, and can stay submerged much longer than its previous versions.

Several years ago, US Navy reports indicate that one or more of the NKorean mini-subs were detected off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii attempting to spy on the operations at Pearl Harbor. US warships chased them off. And recently, rumors surfaced that NKorea may have had some involvement with the Deepwater Horizon disaster. That speculation was fueled by NKorea’s statement on March 27 of "unpredictable strikes" against the US and SKorea.

Evidence is overwhelming that a mini-sub was employed in the attack against the patrol ship, Cheonan. SKorea, vowing revenge, has already terminated trade with the communist nation and has blocked the North from traveling through SKorean waters. Seoul also confirmed that it’s resumed a former propaganda offensive. It has begun including dropping leaflets and jamming NKorean radio stations with Western music.

North Korea countered by declaring it was cutting all ties with the South.

The nuclear dilemma

What makes military experts uneasy is the fact that successive U.S. Administrations have allowed NKorea to develop and detonate nuclear weapons. The renegade country is now busy working on ways to deploy their growing arsenal. The current estimates of NKorea’s nuclear arsenal range from as low as three to as many as seven nuclear devices.

While most military strategists are confident that an all out war would end with America being victorious in 10 days or less, that estimate does not incorporate the nuclear genie nor the possible involvement of China as a NKorean ally into the equation. Either one of those scenarios—nukes or a belligerent China—change the entire game and up the stakes dramatically.

The bottom line is that military aggression of this magnitude by a country we are technically still in a state of war with could easily ignite a resumption of a total shooting war. With America already involved in two wars and the possibility constantly hovering on the horizon of a military conflict with Iran, confirmation could lead to a re-engagement with the NKoreans and precipitate a continuation of the Korean War 57 years after the Armistice.

And such a resumption of war on the Korean Peninsula at this point in history could start the dreaded third world war.