War Games: Robert B. Murrett Discusses North Korea Tensions with CNBC

US-South Korean war games provide trigger that could further inflame Pyongyang

(CNBC | Aug. 10, 2017) Annual war games exercises with tens of thousands of U.S. and South Korean forces are expected to start later this month and could further inflame tensions with North Korea.

Defense experts see little or no chance Washington will call off the two-week drills. They believe doing so would jeopardize readiness and be the wrong signal to nuclear-armed North Korea and U.S. allies in the region. The North has previously indicated it might sit down for talks but first wanted joint military exercises to be halted.

The North Korean regime led by 33-year-old Kim Jong Un sees the drills as a provocation and sometimes responds with threats and a show of power. For example, last year the hermit regime conducted its fifth nuclear test exactly a week after the joint military exercises had formally concluded …

… In June, a North Korean diplomat raised the possibility that Pyongyang might be “willing to talk” with the U.S. about freezing its nuclear and missile tests but first asked for the U.S. to “completely stop” large-scale joint military exercises with South Korea, temporarily or permanently.

“I would be reluctant to trade on those terms because of a signal it may be sending to others around the world and specifically to others that rely upon us heavily in the region,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Robert Murrett, deputy director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University.

Murrett, a former director of Naval Intelligence who also ran the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, added that it still maybe a good idea to “do a day in, day out” assessment because of the situation on the Korean peninsula …

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