The tension in Korean peninsula is unlikely to subside as South Korean intelligence chief Won Sei-hon said the North is highly likely to attack again, despite joint naval drills with U.S. navy conducted early this week.
Yonhap News agency said Won made the observation during a parliamentary committee briefing on Wednesday stressing growing public unrest and worsening economic situation in North Korea as the motivating factors for Pyongyang to inflame tensions in the region and also show the heir-apparent Kim Jong-un as the leader who can steer the country into future.
The joint naval exercise held in the Yellow Sea that ended on Wednesday involving 75 aircraft and 10 warships, including the nuclear-powered USS George Washington, was the largest in a series of drills held in recent months, ignoring threats from Pyongyang and appeals from Beijing. Seoul says another major exercise is likely early next month.
China, which is an ally of the North, is reportedly blocking a motion at the UN Security council to condemn the North Korean attack on South Korean island of Yeonpyeong on Nov. 23, killing four residents including two soldiers and flattening many buildings.
Now, Japan will also join the US and Korean ministerial level meeting on Monday. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Korean foreign minister Kim Sung-hwan and his Japanese counterpart Seiji Maehara will hold the trilateral meeting to assess the impact of war drills in the region.
Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on North Korea to halt its uranium enrichment program. UN nuclear watchdog IAEA chief Yukiya Amano expressed great concern on Thursday over the reports that Pyongyang's uranium enrichment activities dated much further back than it earlier claimed.
It was with great concern that I learned of recent reports about a new uranium enrichment facility, as well as the construction of a new light water reactor, in the DPRK (North Korea)
I urge the DPRK to fully implement all of the relevant resolutions of the (IAEA) general conference and of the (UN) Security Council. As the only multilateral organisation for nuclear verification, the IAEA has an essential role to play in verifying the DPRK's nuclear programme, he said.
The European Union has also described in a statement that the developments in North Korea were of concern and urged Pyongyang to stop its nuclear activities and give IAEA inspectors access to all its nuclear facilities and relevant documentation without further delay.