World News Brief, Friday December 24

South Korea concludes biggest military drill in its history, preparing "merciless counter-attack" (+ analysis); Pakistan says no to US ops in tribal border regions; Russia looks to approve START; Israel military leader says war with Hamas inevitable; and more

Top of the Agenda: South Korea Completes Military Drills

South Korea's military finished a massive live-fire exercise (ABCNews) it described as the biggest drill in the country's history. The drills, the third this week, were conducted near the border with North Korea (FT), sparking charges of provocation from Pyongyang; they were seen as part of South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak's effort to present a stronger image following public anger at North Korea's attack on Yeonpyeong island last month, killing four civilians. "In the case of another surprise attack, the country must launch a merciless counterattack," Lee said (CNN).

The two Koreas have been drawn into escalating hostilities by North Korea's apparent efforts to redraw the maritime boundary (WSJ) near Yeonpyeong and four other islands controlled by South Korea in the Yellow Sea. Though the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Sunday, US disagreements with Russia and China (Reuters) over the crisis on the Korean Peninsula are so profound it is unlikely they can be resolved, says Susan Rice, US envoy to the United Nations. China criticized South Korea (KoreaTimes) for the exercises and praised North Korea's restraint, though North Korea's armed forces minister says Pyongyang is “ready for a sacred war” (BBC) including the use of nuclear weapons.


An effective policy response to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula must strengthen South Korean defenses and close the U.S. gap with China on how to deal with North Korea, says CFR's Scott Snyder.

Korea expert Leon Sigal calls for the United States and South Korea to support a peace process and political and economic engagement with North Korea.

South Korea needs to do better (Chosunilbo) in working with Russia and China diplomatically to confront North Korea, says this editorial.

After Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington next month, North Korea will likely “refocus on South Korea, judging its military to be vulnerable,” writes CFR's Evan A. Feigenbaum.

CFR's Paul Stares looks at the risks for unintended escalation on the peninsula in this new Contingency Planning Memo.


This CFR Crisis Guide: The Korean Peninsula explores the military, economic and nuclear dimensions of the persistent tensions between Pyongyang and Seoul.


PACIFIC RIM: US Accuses China on Wind Power Subsidies

US authorities say China is illegally subsidizing the production of wind power equipment (BBC) and has asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) for talks.



- Pakistan Rejects US Troops in Tribal Areas

- Tensions Mount Between Israel and Hamas

- Medvedev Hails START Ratification


This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on