DPRK-US Relations to Face Challenges: News Analysis

Mar.3 heard Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis verifying at the press conference that on the morning of Mar.2, when a reconnaissance airplane RC-135S of the US army appeared at 240 kilometers to the DPRK seashore in the air over the Sea of Japan, four DPRK MIG fighters followed closely the US spy plane and intercepted it. Later, turning round the US plane flew away and the DPRK fighters also returned to the airfield.

The spokesman expressed that at the time, the four DPRK MIG fighters were approaching the reconnaissance plane RC-135S, the shortest distance from it being only 20 meters but did not take any action for the attack. The DPRK fighters followed on to a place of over 200 kilometers to the east of the DPRK seashore and the two sides faced at each other for some 20 minutes. The US reconnaissance plane discontinued its flight and returned to its base in Okinawa, Japan.

As said, the DPRK sent two MIG29 and two MIG23 fighters into the air and at least one of them even locked its weapons-targeting radar onto the US plane, posing a stance of attacking but did not open fire. The US plane immediately signaled the base that it was possible to be attacked by the DPRK fighters. The Pentagon expressed when the incident happened the US army stationed in ROK and Japan did not send fighter jet to escort the reconnaissance plane RC-135S near the DPRK.

It was the first incident in more than 30 years that the DPRK aircraft intercepted the US plane since August 1969. At that time, a US reconnaissance plane EC-121 was shot down by DPRK, causing a casualty of all 31 Americans on the plane.

Pentagon official said, obviously, the DPRK has long been prepared for the interception, as the fighters the DPRK sent were all of short distance. And to let such aircraft fly 240 kilometers away from the seashore and follow like shadows the US plane for as long as 20 minutes they have to work out a detailed plan in advance.

On the evening of Mar. 3, official of the US government said, beyond doubt this is a provocation signaled at a higher level of the DPRK. The Bush government is planning to lodge a formal protest against the DPRK aircraft interception of the US reconnaissance plane on Mar.2. As learned the US government is now consulting the matter over with the Japanese and South Korean governments.

Since last October when the DPRK nuclear problem bobbed up to the surface the US has time and again declared that it has no intention to solve the matter by means of armed forces. But Bush emphasized not long ago: "all possible choices have been laid on the table." Feb 24, the DPRK launched a ground-to-warship missile before the inauguration of Roh Moo-hyun, the new ROK president, about which officials of the US and the ROK reacted in a low key, saying that the missile was only a small and conventional one.

However afterwards the US intensified its espionage on the DPRK. As calculated by Korean Central News Agency the US spy planes conducted a total of 180 reconnaissance flights over the DPRK in last February. The US army dispatched periodically U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance plane conducting dense espionage activities over all objects in the DPRK, and recently more frequent activities have been conducted to spy out the nuclear reactor possibly restarted somewhere near Yongbyon. Particularly, the reconnaissance plane RC-135S is making almost every day illegal intrusion over the territorial-air to the east of the DPRK seashore for reconnaissance activities with each time lasting for around one hour.

On Mar.2, Rodong Sinmun made a comment on the matter by saying that the US Central Intelligence Agency is now plotting a sudden attack on the DPRK nuclear facilities. The comment warned by saying, "If the US imperialists want to set ablaze a war in Korean Peninsular the war will probably evolve into a nuclear war."

The US and the ROK are soon to conduct a month-long military manoeuvre. For the moment, the US has already dispatched 130 fighters to participate in the military manoeuvre in the ROK. The DPRK lashed out that the large-scale military manoeuvre conducted by the US near the "non-military zone" between the DPRK and the ROK is a "prelude for its attack at the DPRK".

The AP comment pointed out, the engagement of the US and DPRK warplanes happened right at the moment when the relations of the two countries were at daggers drawn and the US was making its reinforcement towards the Gulf Area. After the happening of the incident the US would possibly persuade the international community to impose pressure on Pyongyang. By then the US-DPRK relations will be sure to face with an ordeal.

By People's Daily Online

People's Daily Online --- http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/