Xavier Boltaina, head of the Center for Korean Studies at Complutense University of Madrid, shared his view on the situation on the Korean Peninsula and how Pyongyang has used the 2018 Winter Olympics for its own good.
“I perceive this ‘thawing’ between Pyongyang and Seoul with skepticism. We could have talked about ‘thawing’ if North Korea actually agreed to halt its nuclear program, as its neighbors in the region want,” Boltaina told Sputnik Spain.
According to Boltaina, Pyongyang is playing a game and Seoul is all-too-eager to play along.
“In my opinion, Pyongyang is playing a double game, seeking to weaken the firm bond between South Korea and the US. The high-level North Korean delegation sent to Seoul is a part of this game. I insist that this move was actually a game because, in reality, the members of this delegation — and Kim Yong-nam, the head of the North Korean Parliament — have no real power,” Boltaina says.
There is a reason for Seoul to play along, he says, because for Seoul, having calm relations with its northern neighbor is more important than having good relations with its overseas ally, Washington.
“Why does Seoul take part in this game? Because Seoul believes that this will allow the easing of tensions on the peninsula, which occasionally tends to reach critical limits. And to do that, South Korea is ready to act even against the will of the US. And Washington is apparently irritated by this development,” Boltaina says.
“This is proven by the behavior of US Vice President Mike Pence, who, during his visit to Pyeongchang, demonstratively ignored North Korean representatives. In my opinion, what we see is a violation of all kinds of diplomatic norms,” he added.
“This kind of behavior does not come out of the blue; it demonstrated the US intent to continue to increase pressure on North Korea. And it worries Seoul, who understands that Washington’s action may have catastrophic consequences, especially for South Korea.”
Boltaina underscores that Pyongyang knows what it is doing and seems to be slowly achieving its goals.
“They play [the game] very effectively and win one match after another. Without abandoning its nuclear program, North Korea has managed to achieve some convergence with the South by using, among other things, the weak and chaotic foreign policy of the US,” he said.
Boltaina pointed at the US as the main threat on the Peninsula.
“In my opinion, the main threat to stability on the Korean Peninsula comes from the US. [US President] Donald Trump’s approval ratings keep going lower and I do not rule out that he will try to fix the situation by showing Americans his decisiveness and brutality towards North Korea.”
“The probability is high that he will undertake a military venture against North Korea. Trump’s predecessors did the same things to raise their own ratings — I mean oversea military ventures, such as the attack on Libya,” he explained.
The opinions expressed are those of speaker alone and do not necessarily reflect the position of Sputnik News.