The Korean Peninsula is experiencing its most dangerous period since the Korean War, a British think tank claims. The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies made the assessment in its "The Military Balance 2011" report published on Tuesday.
"In the context of an imminent and possibly unclear leadership succession in Pyongyang, North Korea's apparent aggression towards the South -- seen in its alleged sinking of the Cheonan in March last year and its shelling last November of the island of Yeonpyeong -- mean that the Korean Peninsula is now as dangerous a place it has been at any time since the end of the Korean War in 1953," the report says.
"These developments have reinforced South Korea's determination to strengthen its military capacity. Seoul has focused on procuring anti-submarine warfare capabilities and has accelerated the multirole fighter aircraft programme."
Citing the two Koreas as an example, IISS director-general John Chipman told Reuters that local skirmishes have been a trend around the world over the past decade, but that the threat of conventional warfare between states is also growing again.
The report ranks North Korea fourth after China, the U.S., and India in terms of nuclear, chemical and cyber warfare capabilities and the number of troops. The North is believed to have enough plutonium to make four to eight nuclear warheads for missiles, a 2,500 to 5,000 ton stockpile of chemical weapons, enhanced cyber warfare capabilities to paralyze the enemy command structure by destroying its computer systems, and a massive number of troops.