Some news broke about North Korea on Thursday morning — and, for once, it’s actually kind of reassuring.
The US and South Korea just announced that they would delay annual military exercises that were scheduled to take place during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongyang. These exercises, which involve simulating operations that would likely be used in the event of war with North Korea, generally anger the North and could have provoked it to do something dangerous in response.
The decision, which was apparently during a call between Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-In, is surprising given Trump’s belligerent approach to North Korea. Analysts had predicted that the Olympic games in Pyeongchang, coupled with the exercises, might be an opportunity for North Korea to launch a high-profile missile test or do something else provocative. The postponing of exercises makes such a provocation — which could potentially have escalated into something even scarier — less likely.
In short? This move decreases the risk of war with North Korea — at least by a little bit and for now.
“Delaying military exercises will certainly delay a source of tension,” Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on North Korea at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies, says. “It will also provide some space to discuss reducing tension.”
But a lot depends on the follow-up. The exercises are delayed, not canceled, and North Korea could very well do something else that reignites tensions during the Olympic games. This is a temporary reprieve, but whether it’s anything more depends a lot on what American and Korean leaders do next.
Why the delay matters
The annual spring US-South Korean exercises, called Foal Eagle, are typically held in February or March. They’re huge — 290,000 South Korean troops participated in 2016 — and involve air, sea, Read More Here