Washington and Seoul’s rancor at North Korea in the wake of its missile tests, illustrated by negotiations on the joint deployment of Thaad (Theater High Altitude Air Defense), has shaken things up in ways that the US undoubtedly finds gratifying. Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) supported a new UN Security Council sanctions resolution and have delivered, at the very least, stern language.
Russia delivered an unprecedented smackdown of Kim Jong-un for his most recent outburst of furious nuclear bloviating:
“We consider it to be absolutely impermissible to make public statements containing threats to deliver some ‘preventive nuclear strikes’ against opponents,” the Russian foreign ministry said Monday in response to North Korea’s threats.
I would say that Kim had more of a point than usual, since the object of his indignation—the 2016 iteration of the annual US-ROK military exercises—contained, in addition to twice as many troops as it usually does, some interesting elements, thoughtfully revealed to the South Korean media and picked up by the Washington Post:
The United States and South Korea started huge military exercises Monday, kicking off drills that will include rehearsing surgical strikes on North Korea’s main nuclear and missile facilities and sending in special forces to carry out “decapitation raids” on the North Korean leadership …
The exercises will revolve around a wartime plan adopted by South Korea and the United States last year, called OPLAN 5015. The plan has not been made public but, according to numerous reports in the South Korean media, it includes a contingency for surgical strikes against North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile facilities, as well as having special forces practice “decapitation” raids to take out the North Korean leadership. The JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported that Kim Jong-un would be among them.