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Likelihood of nuclear conflict on Korean Peninsula will dramatically higher: U.S. expert

All Headlines 06:55 September 13, 2016

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (Yonhap) -- The likelihood of nuclear conflict on the Korean Peninsula will become "dramatically higher" over the next several years as North Korea beefs up its nuclear capabilities, a U.S. expert said Monday.

Van Jackson, an associate professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, issued the warning in an article, saying Pyongyang's fifth nuclear test shows the communist nation is seeking an "assured retaliation" nuclear posture that ensures any attempt to decapitate its nuclear capability with preventive strikes will all but guarantee nuclear war.

"Until it has a clearly recognizable assured retaliation capability, North Korea's de facto nuclear posture is ... 'asymmetric escalation' that is, a posture that contemplates nuclear first-use as a de-escalatory measure during crises or conflict," Jackson said in an article posted at Beyond Parallel, a website run by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"As a consequence, over the next several years, the likelihood of nuclear conflict in Korea will become dramatically higher than in the past," he said.

The expert stressed that the U.S. and South Korea must acknowledge sanctions on Pyongyang don't work.

"The alliance and the international community must acknowledge that sanctions and other forms of 'cost imposition' in response to North Korean testing serve the purpose of reinforcing the nuclear taboo but will not change the current path," he said.

Seoul and Washington should also "move away from statements that North Korean testing is 'totally unacceptable' when there is nothing short of violence that can be done to stop testing," he said, adding that a better alternative is to underscore the high economic cost of North Korea's continuing down this path.

The allies should not also allow "a replay of the violence in 2010," he said, referring to the North's sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan and the North's artillery attack on the South's Yeonpyeong Island.

"If the alliance is attacked, even in small or deniable ways, swift and concentrated retaliation must follow," Jackson said. "North Korea should no longer be given the benefit of the doubt in cases of ambiguity about attribution."

jschang@yna.co.kr
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