The United States and China are preparing for a situation in which all hell breaks loose on the Korean Peninsula. Both nations are taking unprecedented steps as tensions toward a nuclear war ramp up even more.
The US has stepped up military drills, practiced air raids, and reportedly started preparing to seize North Korea’s nuclear weapons by force, a feat South Korea has declared won’t be all that easy. South Korean officials have been talking up a pause in military drills in hopes that it will lead to a peaceful Winter Olympics in February, but the US has yet to agree to halt said drills. Instead, the US brought in a record number of stealth aircraft this month to train up on an air war against North Korea. Immediately after the drill, which featured a marked increase in simulated bomb runs on North Korean targets, the US and South Korea reportedly engaged in drills to infiltrate North Korea and neutralize its weapons of mass destruction.
At a speech at the Atlantic Council last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US was preparing plans to seize loose nuclear weapons, should North Korea somehow collapse or become unstable.
President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, also flatly rejected the clearest path to peace by saying the US would never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea. He recommitted the US to using force if necessary.
“We’re not committed to a peaceful resolution — we’re committed to a resolution,” McMaster told the BBC. “We have to be prepared, if necessary, to compel the denuclearization of North Korea without the cooperation of that regime.” –Business Insider
China is also bracing itself for a potential war. Across North Korea’s border in China’s Jilin province, state-run media ran a full-page instructional package on how to survive a nuclear blast. The page doesn’t mention North Korea, but it doesn’t need to. According to Business Insider, there are also a few notable new additions to Jilin. Five new refugee camps built “because the situation on the China-North Korea border has intensified lately,” a leaked document seen by The New York Times said. The camps could accommodate thousands of North Koreans who might pour across the border in a time of war.
Of course, China’s preparations don’t end there either. They also have an offensive approach to the heightened tensions. China’s air force engaged in exercises along “routes and areas it has never flown before” earlier this month, with surveillance aircraft over the Yellow and East seas near the Korean Peninsula, according to the South China Morning Post. “The timing of this high-profile announcement by the PLA is also a warning to Washington and Seoul not to provoke Pyongyang any further,” Li Jie, a military expert based in Beijing, told the Post, using the abbreviation for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In addition to flexing its military muscle against the US, China has been increasingly assertive in the South China Sea. It has also dispatched military spy planes to encircle Taiwan and provide up-to-date info, which the Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong told the Post was “very unusual.”
All of this is in preparation for an “all hell breaks loose” scenario that’s likely to unfold on the Korean Peninsula.