However North Korea fulminates, South Korean analysts say the South has to go through with the exercises as planned within the next few days.
“That can’t stop South Korea from doing what it plans to do,” says Mr. Han, who now chairs the influential Asan Institute in Seoul. As for North Korea’s statement, he says, “It’s not the first time for their huffing and puffing.”
One reason North Korea may not repeat last month’s attack on Yeonpyeong Island, in which two South Korean marines and two civilians were killed, is the visit of Gov. Richardson, accompanied by a CNN crew, to Pyongyang.
“They’ll probably show them the uranium enrichment program,” says Han. “That should be threatening enough.”
After talks Friday with North Korean officials, Richardson is expected to visit the North Korean nuclear complex in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, where North Korea has nearly completed a facility with a 20-megawatt reactor for producing highly enriched uranium.
North Korea showed the facility to a US delegation led by nuclear physicist Siegfried Hecker in November, two weeks before the Yeonpyeong attack.