LONDON (Yonhap News) -- The Korean Peninsula is experiencing its most “dangerous” period since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War in light of North Korean provocations last year, an international military report said Wednesday.
The 2011 edition of the annual Military Balance, published by the London-based think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies, said international tensions rose across the world in 2010 and pointed to North Korean provocations.
“In the context of an imminent and possibly unclear leadership succession in Pyongyang, North Korea’s apparent aggressions toward the South -- seen in its alleged sinking of the Cheonan in March last year and its shelling last November of the island of Yeonpyeong -- mean that the Korean Peninsula is now as dangerous a place it has been at any time since the end of the Korean War in 1953,” a press statement by the IISS read.
In May last year, a Seoul-led multinational probe concluded that North Korea torpedoed the Cheonan warship off the west coast, killing 46 men aboard. In November, four South Koreans -- two marines and two civilians -- were killed in the North Korean shelling, in North Korea’s first attack on South Korean soil since the Korean War.
Pyongyang has yet to acknowledge responsibility for these actions, despite Seoul’s repeated demands. The two Koreas remain technically at war since the Korean War ended with an armistice, instead of a peace treaty.
“These developments have reinforced South Korea’s determination to strengthen its military capacity,” the IISS statement read.
“Seoul has focused on procuring antisubmarine warfare capabilities and has accelerated the FX-III multirole fighter aircraft program.”
The think tank said these moves have “backed up Seoul’s more assertive rhetoric,” as the Lee Myung-bak administration has vowed to meet any future provocations with strong responses.
The Military Balance offers assessment of military capabilities and defense economies of 170 countries. The latest edition also looks at the war in Afghanistan, China’s defense industry and piracy off Somali coasts.