North Korea Appears to Deescalate
North Korea has removed two medium-range missiles from a coastal launch site, indicating a lowering of tension on the peninsula, a US official said.
Pyongyang was believed to be preparing for a launch last month, having threatened attacks in the region.
The Musudan missiles had been ready to launch at any moment but North Korea had now "moved them", a unnamed US defence official told AFP news agency.
A report from South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing an unnamed senior government source, backed that up, saying Pyongyang appeared to have lifted its highest combat alert and moved the missiles, although their current location was not confirmed.
The move is the most tangible sign yet that North Korea has stepped back from its threats to launch missiles, the BBC’s Jane Little in Washington reports.
So, shockingly, it would appear that the behavior we witnesses from the North was not the beginning of a new war on the peninsula, but rather more sabre-rattling by the North, probably more for domestic consumption than anything else.
Of course, military leaders sounds cautious notes, as we would expect:
But a senior US official from the National Security Council warned that, given the North’s unpredictable behaviour, it was "premature to celebrate it as good news".
Pentagon spokesman George Little, who declined to comment directly on the missiles’ reported removal, told reporters "what we have seen recently is a provocation pause".
Although, really, isn’t there an ongoing cycle of provocation and the pausing thereof?