North Korea crisis: An excuse for US militarisation

North Korea crisis: An excuse for US militarisation
BEIJING: North Korea crisis has provided an excuse for the US to further militarize the region, and the countermeasure for China is to increase military deployment and readiness for any escalation of the crisis, analysts said.

US President Donald Trump tweeted last week: "I am allowing Japan and South Korea to buy a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States," but he didn't say what kind of "sophisticated military equipment" will be included.

"These weapons might include both attack and defense military equipment, including Patriot missiles, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile interception system, Tomahawk missiles and stealth fighter jets, so US allies can both increase their defensive capability and strengthen their capability to detect and destroy North Korea's military targets preemptively," Song Zhongping, a military expert who used to serve in the PLA Rocket Force, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The White House said that Trump agreed to sell South Korea billions of dollars of US arms, Reuters reported Tuesday. Trump also approved that "Seoul could review a joint treaty which places a cap on the development of its ballistic missiles - meaning the strike distance and force of the weapons could be increased," South Korea's presidential Blue House said.

Japan might also get permission to purchase offensive weapons like Tomahawk cruise missiles from the US, because since North Korea's provocative nuclear test, the US is considering offering its allies more weapons, so the US can keep away from the damage if conflict breaks out, according to Song.

The Washington Times reported Tuesday that the Trump administration is considering selling Tomahawk cruise missiles to Japan, which the US has previously been hesitant to do. 

Under the Shinzo Abe government, "Tokyo has been mulling a constitutional change to allow its armed forces to acquire offensive weapons such as the Tomahawk cruise missile. Current Japanese law limits Tokyo from obtaining such weapons," the Washington Times reported.

An arms race is almost unstoppable, and just like THAAD, these weapons will also threaten the stability of the region and other countries' security, including China and Russia, so the US arms sales can only make the situation more dangerous, Song said.

"From the crisis, North Korea has achieved its nuclear aims, and the US gets an excuse to strengthen its military presence and push arms sales to its allies, while South Korea and Japan can get weapons they couldn't before," said Chu Yin, an associate professor at the University of International Relations.

"But China just got a more intense and militarized northeastern Asia, and it will be forced to join the arms race as well," Chu said.

China can strengthen its offensive and defensive military deployments, and also its anti-missile capability, Song said. "Being capable of a limited military intervention in the peninsula is also important. If there is conflict, China should be capable of controlling the situation as soon as possible." 

It may take years for foreign military sales in the US to go through, as Congress authorization is needed before negotiations over contracts and prices can begin, the US Department of Defense website says.