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Be prepared

Dec 26,2017
News reports say that the United States and China agreed to set up a hotline as the North Korean nuclear crisis deepens. According to the foreign press, Washington and Beijing decided to establish a line of emergency military communications to share information on international sanctions on North Korea and their impact. The actors here are the U.S. Forces Korea and China’s Northern Theater Command handling North Korea. Both allegedly will exchange intelligence on the North directly.

Between South Korea and China, two hotlines are established: One between our Navy and China’s Naval Headquarters in Tsingtao, the other between our Air Force Operation Command in Osan and the Aerospace Command and Control Center in Beijing. But this is the first time the U.S. Forces Korea and China’s Northern Theater Command have agreed to launch a hotline, which could serve as a military channel between Washington and Beijing at times of crisis on the Korean Peninsula. That means we can hardly rule out the possibility of the United States and China talking about the North Korean problem without South Korea.

The Sino-U.S. consensus to share North Korea information reflects the urgency of our current situation. In visits to four U.S. military bases last week, including the 82nd Airborne Division in North Carolina, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis warned that storm clouds are gathering over the peninsula, adding that there is no reason to think about the crisis optimistically. The airborne division is the one that is dispatched to North Korea at times of war on the peninsula. The remarks by Mattis, who has been prudent about the idea of using a military option, show the increasing likelihood of an armed clash here.

Mattis also said that the United States has contingency action plans to pull out families of U.S. Forces Korea and others after a short period of notification. UN Resolution 2279 includes shutting off of oil supplies to North Korea. In reaction, North Korea threatened South Korea and Japan for joining the sanctions.

Under such volatile circumstances, the Blue House says that it was the previous administration that pushed for the import of vaccines against North Korean anthrax attacks. Anthrax vaccines need to be first offered to the national leadership, including the president and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But the Blue House must inoculate all our soldiers on the frontline after quickly securing the budget needed. The government must find ways to protect our soldiers and citizens before it is too late.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 26, Page 34