South Korea says the buildup of special forces represents a shift in North Korea’s emphasis from all-out war to military provocation.
Just as hopes were fading for the US-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, negotiators came to terms on prying open the South Korean motor vehicle market to placate angry US carmakers and labor unions.
Jimmy Carter was greeted Wednesday by North Korea’s nuclear envoy, Kim Kye-gwan, which analysts say is a signal North Korea wants the visit to be about much more than the release of US prisoner Aijalon Mahli Gomes.
North Korea has refrained so far from retaliating against the ongoing US-South Korea war games. Analysts say the North may try a long-range missile test toward the United States or Japan.
A third nuclear test and naval confrontations in the Yellow Sea are likely, say analysts, in response to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's announcement Monday of retaliatory measures against North Korea for torpedoing the navy ship Cheonan.
Secretary of Defense Gates reassured jittery South Korea of firm US commitment to deterring North's conventional forces and confronting its nuclear threat.
Recent moves to possibly test a long-range missile may be aimed at grabbing US attention.