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Military experts: US-South Korea naval drills to pressure North Korea, China

April 03, 2014, 20:13 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, April 03. /ITAR-TASS/ The Foal Eagle naval drills, currently being conducted by the United States and South Korea, have escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula to the maximum again, like in April 2013. The exercises, which are the largest in the past 20 years, began last week and will last until April 7. They involve an unprecedented number of marines, 11,000.

North Korea perceives the show of muscles by the United States and South Korea as a direct threat to its security. Rocket launches and artillery practice are accompanied by Pyongyang’s threats to conduct new nuclear tests.

The UN Security Council last Friday condemned a number of ballistic missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, the official name of North Korea). Russia is making it clear that responsibility for escalation of tensions in the region rests not only with Pyongyang, but rather with the United States and South Korea. Moscow accuses Washington and Seoul of “excessive military activity in Northeastern Asia”.

The Russian Foreign Ministry draws attention to “provoking elements” of the Foal Eagle drills: “bombing practices with the use of strategic bombers, practicing landing operations to seize administrative centers of foreign states etc.”

Russian security experts say the ongoing large-scale Foal Eagle exercises demonstrate the United States’ desire to increase its presence in the Asia-Pacific Region (APR), pressure North Korea, but first and foremost restrict China’s capabilities.

“Judging by the number of participants of the current drills, the Pentagon’s aim is to not only pressure Pyongyang, but also to maximally develop capabilities to redeploy American troops to the Pacific and concentrate aviation and naval forces in the region. The maneuvers are aimed at increasing control over sea communications to limit China’s symmetric capabilities,” Major General Pavel Zolotaryov, a deputy director of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute for US and Canadian Studies, told Itar-Tass.

“The US military doctrine aims to reinforce the presence of American armed forces in the Asia-Pacific Region, first and foremost, to restrain China,” the military expert said.

“China is implementing the world’s most intensive program of modernization and building up nuclear potential, increasing its vitality, combat readiness, perfecting information management systems. Besides, China is experimenting with the missile defense system and counter-satellite weapons,” Alexey Arbatov, the head of the Russian Academy of Sciences International Security Center, told ITAR-TASS.

“That is why Washington places more emphasis on developing missile defense in the Pacific than in the Euro-Atlantic Region: 90 percent of the US defense cyber component and striking power is deployed in the Asia Pacific Region. Besides, radar stations and missile defense interceptors are deployed in areas and at navies of the US allies and partners, with whom joint technical development work is underway. The talk is about Japan, South Korea and Taiwan,” academician Arbatov said.

In his opinion, “officially, the entire system is targeted against North Korea, which in 2012 held a test launch of a ballistic missile above Japan, in 2013 conducted the third test of nuclear weapons, provoking a regular acute crisis, and is possibly preparing to conduct a fourth test”.

“However, further buildup of the US armed forces in Northeastern Asia will be redundant for repelling rocket attacks by the DPRK and can have no other aim as to hamper the growth of China’s potential of nuclear deterrence,” Arbatov concluded.

“The United States, by weakening its positions in many regions, including in the situation around Ukraine, is trying to show by its large-scale naval drills in Northeastern Asia that is still remains a candidate for world domination, that it is still strong and intends to dominate,” the president of the Geopolitical Problems Academy, Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, said in an interview with ITAR-TASS.

“The current situation in the Asia-Pacific Region is tense, particularly between China and Japan. Russia is also building up its military forces in the region. So by the current Foal Eagle exercises, the United States shows that it will not leave Northeastern Asia. The threat from North Korea is only a pretext to reinforce the Pentagon’s positions in the APR,” the military expert said.

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