Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:35AM
This picture taken on March 14, 2017 shows a two-seater F/A-18F Super Hornet landing on the deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson during a South Korea-US joint military exercise in seas east of the Korean Peninsula. (Photo by AFP)
This picture taken on March 14, 2017 shows a two-seater F/A-18F Super Hornet landing on the deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson during a South Korea-US joint military exercise in seas east of the Korean Peninsula. (Photo by AFP)

Tensions continue to rise on the Korean peninsula with fears of more missile tests from North Korea. This is while the United States has dispatched a strike group, including an aircraft carrier, to the region which has angered Pyongyang. Press TV has talked to Jason Unruhe, political commentator and analyst, as well as Michael Lane, founder of American Institute for Foreign Policy, to get their opinions on how close the US and North Korea are to a military confrontation.  

Unruhe believes the first strike would have to come from the United States in order for a war to break out on the Korean peninsula, adding that North Korea’s missiles tests are for deterrence purposes.  

“The point of developing their nuclear technology has always been to provide a great deterrent that if the DPRK were to be invaded, they know militarily they cannot win, but they will make the price of invading them so high that it will not be worth the effort,” he said.

The analyst also stressed that North Korea has only threatened to “retaliate” if a military invasion is carried out, noting that Pyongyang has been pursuing “a path of independence, not conquest”, as Washington has.

He further emphasized as long as the build-up of US naval forces near the Korean Peninsula continues, North Korea will be incentivized to create even more nuclear weapons.

South Korean Marines move into position on a beach during a joint landing operation with US Marines in the southeastern port of Pohang on April 2, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Elsewhere in his remarks, Unruhe expressed doubt that China could wield influence over North Korea in order to solve the crisis on the Korean peninsula.   

The real “deciding factor” is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, he said, adding that it is Pyongyang that should determine its own destiny.  

Meanwhile, Michael Lane, the other panelist on the program, opined that there is still time for a peaceful solution to this emerging crisis, asserting that the solution is the “denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula.

He also noted both China and the United States are committed to a peaceful resolution of the crisis on the Korean peninsula.  

However, he said, this is really up to North Korea to resolve the problem because if Pyongyang continues to take “provocative” and “belligerent” steps in terms of testing nuclear capabilities and ballistic missiles, “it crosses the line that the rest of the world cannot accept”.

Lane further expressed doubt that the United States would use a first strike nuclear weapons against the government of North Korea.

He also warned given the retaliatory capabilities of North Korea, if such a first strike takes place, it would be an “absolute disaster”.

The analyst concluded by saying that the problem is that the world considers Kim Jong-un to be “extraordinarily unstable and irrational”. Therefore, “conventional and rational measures to persuade him to take certain courses of action are perceived not to be effective”, he noted.