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    Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors arrive at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, in this handout picture provided by the United States Forces Korea (USFK) and released by Yonhap on March 7, 2017. Picture taken on March 6, 2017

    Washington 'Needs Korean Conflict to Justify Its Military Presence' in Asia

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    The United States appears to have benefited from the tensions on the Korean peninsula since the unresolved conflict and missile threats ostensibly emanating from North Korea have helped Washington to justify its military presence in South Korea and Japan, political analyst Alexei Fenenko told Sputnik.

    "Americans are trying to achieve simple things [in Asia]. Firstly, they badly need the conflict around North Korea since they use it to justify their military presence on the Korean Peninsula. Imagine that North Korea is no longer an issue, what formal grounds would the US have to stay there?" he asked. "They also need the confrontation to maintain their military presence in Japan. They will once again use the latest launches as an argument in favor of deploying their missile defense system to Japan despite China's protests against THAAD in South Korea."

    These comments came in response to North Korea's latest ballistic missile test. On Monday, Pyongyang launched four ballistic missiles deployed to the Tongchang-ri region into the Sea of Japan. The missiles are said to have covered a distance of approximately 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), with three landing as close as 300 kilometers (190 miles) from Japan's coast.

    Fenenko, an associate professor at Moscow State University's Faculty of World Politics, maintained that North Korea has used such tests to force the United States, as well as South Korea and Japan to launch negotiations and provide financial and humanitarian assistance.

    Defense analyst Vladimir Evseev told Sputnik that the latest launches come as no surprise since they merely reflect policies that both Pyongyang and Seoul have pursued for decades.

    "Neither Pyongyang, nor Seoul have changed their policies. Pyongyang is not ready to make concessions. … At the same time it is trying to gain Beijing's support due to immense external pressure. However, it would be unwise to think that everything boils down to North Korea, since South Korea is doing what it has been doing and is not making any concessions either. [Seoul] is constantly holding large-scale military drills that are provocative in their nature. They are training for offensive operations aimed capturing Pyongyang, killing Kim Jong-un and destroying military facilities in the North," he explained.

    Evseev further said that Washington has played a part in fueling the Korean conflict.

    "Washington is not trying to serve as a mediator to ease tensions. The US is making every effort to support South Korea and as a result has encouraged Seoul to escalate tensions. These activities are counterproductive. In these circumstances I do not rule out that military incidents could take place along the Korean Demilitarized Zone. The Trump administration is no different from the Obama administration in this respect," he lamented.

    Georgy Toloraya, who heads the Center of Russian Strategy in Asia at the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Sputnik that the trend remains unchanged since the United States, South Korea and Japan will continue to exert pressure on North Korea, while Pyongyang will respond with provocations.

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    Tags:
    North Korea missile launch, ballistic missile program, US military presence, Vladimir Evseev, Alexei Fenenko, Georgy Toloraya, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), Japan, United States, Asia, South Korea
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