Neighbours apprehensive of North Korean nuclear plans

A man looks at the display showing possible damage if a 1 megaton class nuclear weapon is detonated in Seoul, at the Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, April 2, 2013.
Image caption The regional press have urged Seoul to prepare for "the worst-case scenario"

Commentators in South Korea, China and Russia are sure that North Korea's military posturing is not the prelude to an attack, but many fear that miscalculation or over-reaction could lead to conflict.

South Korean papers have called on their government to hold its nerve but prepare for war. Chinese commentators followed President Xi Jinping's lead in warning North Korea, while also calling on South Korea and the US to exercise restraint. Taiwanese analysts think North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's brinkmanship has backfired, and could strengthen Sino-US ties, while Russian pundits have reflected a broad array of views.

South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo

If the confrontation reaches a critical phase, the peninsula can expect to face another crisis as the US's intercepting of the North's missiles would mean a direct military face-off between the two countries. The South Korean government must demonstrate deft crisis-management skills to fully prepare for any emergencies. It must also prevent a rapid deterioration of the situation through poor judgment and devise an "exit strategy".

South Korea's Dong-A Ilbo

For the sake of national security, South Korea should prepare for the worst-case scenario. Since the North's intentions are not yet clear, thorough preparations should be made against any kind of provocation. To preserve peace on the Korean Peninsula, the South Korean government and military should not make any prejudgments and loosen up in any second... Kim Jong-un seems to have no intention of taking his foot off the accelerator.

South Korea's Hankyoreh Sinmun

In the event that the North actually carries out a missile launch, it is very likely to be the Musudan mid-range ballistic missile, which was confirmed to have been relocated from the military factory in Pyongyang to the vicinity of Wonsan on the east coast. Reports say that it is very difficult to detect a Musudan launch in advance, since it can be fired from a mobile launcher and it only takes 10 minutes to prepare for the launch.

Chinese security analyst Peng Guangqian on Hong Kong's Phoenix TV

The US, South Korea and North Korea are carrying out nothing but an empty show of strength to seek more bargaining power. It is very dangerous for three countries teetering on the brink of war. It will do them no good if the situation spins out of control or war breaks out. As a neighbouring country and close ally, China will not sit idly by if North Korea is invaded by external military forces. But, despite the special relationship between China and North Korea, if Pyongyang unilaterally makes an irrational move that causes serious consequences, China will not unconditionally stand by its side, let alone join a regional war.

Beijing News

North Korea should step back from the brink as soon as possible and return to the negotiating table. As President Xi Jinping said yesterday, no side in the North Korean nuclear issue "can throw a region or the world into chaos for selfish gain", but must take its own responsibility for peace. China will certainly not sit idly by and watch North Korea act wilfully and slide into the abyss of war.

Former Chinese diplomat Yan Jing in Hong Kong's Ta Kung Pao

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's comments making it clear that China is opposed to any provocative words and deeds by any party in the region and that it will not allow trouble on its doorstep were the weightiest remarks made recently by China. It is a warning to North Korea, but also a warning to the US, South Korea and Japan.

Taiwanese analyst John Lim Chuan-tiong in Hong Kong's Ming Pao

Chinese public opinion is no longer inclined to continue to support the "ungrateful traitor" North Korea. Today's nuclear crisis could bring disaster to China, while military exchanges and mutual trust between China and the US keep growing. It is not impossible that both sides will seek to jointly resolve the North Korean issue in the future.

Taiwanese analyst Edward Chen I-hsin in Taiwan's Want Daily

North Korea wants to start this nuclear war crisis to establish its authority domestically and create a new strongman image internationally, but the result has been self-defeating. It has not only allowed the US to make a high-profile military return to Asia, but also made Big Brother China unhappy.

Andrei Yashlavsky in Russia's Moskovsky Komsomolets

The delay of the missile test in the US and the cancellation of a meeting between senior US and South Korean military officials in Washington could be presented as if Washington were frightened by threats from Pyongyang. It could also be seen as an understanding that the situation on the Korean peninsula has become tense in the extreme. And the thin red line between peace and war could be crossed at any point.

Vladimir Skosyrev in Russia's Nezavisimaya Gazeta

When the White House weighs up all the possible options, it has to take into account the stance of China and, to a lesser degree, Russia. Both Beijing and Moscow seek to prevent the conflict from developing into the worst-case scenario. In the event of war, refugees could pour into these two countries, which would result in a humanitarian crisis.

Gennady Savchenko in Russia's Novyye Izvestiya

North Korea is scaring the world with the threat of a nuclear war, but the world is not afraid... North Korea probably expected a different reaction from the international community, a hint at possible talks. Its objective is well known: in exchange for giving up flexing its "nuclear muscle", Pyongyang is asking for serious economic aid.

Military analyst Alexander Sharavin in Russia's Moskovskiye Novosti

If there is a technical malfunction of some sort, that's it - there will be a small nuclear war.

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