Military and political analyst Michael Burns said the increasing US military buildup around the Korean Peninsula was only meant to keep the threat of military action against Pyongyang alive.
The US has moved more warships and aircraft to the region over the past days, expanding its military presence there as South Korea prepares to host North Korean athletes in Winter Olympics next month.
The USS Wasp, an upgraded US Marine Corps amphibious assault ship that can carry troops and a crop of fighter jets including the F-35, arrived in southern Japan on Sunday.
The US Pacific Air Forces announced last week that it had deployed three B-2 "Spirit" stealth bombers along with some 200 personnel from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to the Pacific island of Guam.
Earlier, the US Navy’s USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier departed for the western Pacific on what the Pentagon said was a routine mission. The strike group is expected to arrive in the region before the Olympics begin on February 9.
“This buildup in anticipation of the Olympics is standard operating procedure on the current doctrine of this presidential administration towards North Korea which is to keep up the threat of a military action at least in the minds of the American people,” Burns said.
The analyst said the “clever” decision on part of Pyongyang to sit down for talks with its southern neighbor had regional and strategic implications.
“On a parochial level, the South Koreans want to be sure that there is no tension around this Winter Olympics,” he said, arguing that “just a threat of North Korea having military action could destroy the Winter Olympics.”
On a strategic level, the move has basically left Washington “flat-footed,” noted the analyst.
“We don’t know what to say on this,” he said. “Traditionally, South Korea has been bellicose to North Korea and it relied on our many troops there… and now South Korea has just taken a different tactic.”
North Korea, which has been engaged in a long-running standoff with the US over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, has blasted the expansion of the military buildup as an attempt to derail recent talks between the two Koreas.