North Korea Appears to Deescalate

Via the BBC:  N Korea ‘removes’ missiles from east coast launch site

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?

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. John Peabody says:

    “Provacative Pause”? That’s a little too much allertiation from Pentagon press people preparing remarks for media members mumbling about missles.

  2. Brett says:

    There’s two cycles: the “saber-rattling followed by de-escalation” cycle that usually happened around the time of year when South Korea conducts military exercises, and the “Fake nuclear disarmament for food” cycle that’s happened a couple of time.

  3. Rob in CT says:

    Good thing we didn’t overreact, eh?

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Gee, it kind of looks like Obama handled this well. No doubt the kudos will rain down at any moment from the GOP.

  5. grumpy realist says:

    China also decided to put the clamps on a North Korean import-export bank. Which indicated a high level of being pissed off with North Korea.

    Except that these idiots are dealing with nukes, this is no more than the standard threat by a four-year old to hold his breath until he turns blue.