Six launches in 12 days. The expert: “The tension is very high, the risks that lead to a collision or accident are very high in this phase”
As expected, the emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, convened by the United States, United Kingdom, France, Albania, Norway and Ireland, after the launch by North Korea of a ballistic missile that flew over Japan.
“This year the DPRK launched a record number of missiles, but enjoyed the total protection of two members of this Council (ed. Russia and China), who did everything to justify the repeated provocations of North Korea and block any attempt to update the sanctions regime. Two permanent members of the Security Council have enabled Kim Jong-un, ”thundered US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
“The launches are closely linked to military exercises,” again supported Moscow and Beijing, who urged the Security Council to do more to resume dialogue instead of relying solely on sanctions and pressure.
Meanwhile, North Korea continues with its tests. Today it launched two short-range ballistic missiles towards the East Sea-Sea of Japan, which would end up outside the Tokyo Exclusive Economic Zone.
The tension is back on the Korean peninsula. The launches, about forty since the beginning of the year, have intensified in the last 10 days and according to the UN and many observers, Pyongyang could soon carry out a seventh nuclear test. What is happening? What is Kim Jong-un aiming for?
On 3 October, North Korea launched a ballistic missile that flew over Japan. It hadn’t happened since 2017. Why right now when the nuclear issue is on the agenda with reference to the Ukrainian question?
In the last week, the United States, South Korea and Japan have been engaged in activities aimed at reaffirming the extended deterrence in an anti-North Korean function. Then anti-submarine drills off the east coast of the peninsula, joint military exercises with US aircraft carriers, including the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan which had not visited a South Korean port since 2017. All this while Kamala Harris’ visit was underway on the 29th. September in Seoul.
Usually, joint military exercises coincide with more frequent North Korean military provocations and tests and therefore with the intensification of tension in the area, as historically the joint military exercises of the United States and its allies in the region are perceived by Pyongyang as preparation to an imminent attack on the regime. Naturally for Washington, Seoul and Tokyo they are carried out from a defensive point of view.
The October 3 launch, however, must be read in a broader perspective. The last launch would have been carried out anyway, given the frequency with which North Korea is carrying out its ballistic tests which we recall represent a violation of the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. An activity resumed from September last year that I would trace back to the repercussions of the failure of the Hanoi summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un in 2019.
With these tests Kim tries to achieve the goals she has already announced. In Hanoi he had offered to dismantle some structures of the nuclear sites in order to obtain a substantial easing of economic sanctions in exchange, but he was faced with US refusal. We can say that the window of opportunity for dialogue that opened with the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February 2018 has closed and remains closed to this day.
What are Kim Jong-un’s goals now? What do you want to achieve with this escalation of missile tests?
In the eighth congress of the Workers’ party in January 2021, Kim Jong-un presented a long list of objectives to be achieved in order to advance the nuclear program both quantitatively and qualitatively.
The so-called “byungjin” …
The “byunjiin” policy was announced shortly after Kim Jong-un took power and referred to the parallel development of the economic and nuclear component. At the eighth congress, however, taking note of the bad economic situation, it was confirmed that the North Koreans will still have to tighten their belts because it is necessary to continue investing resources in the defense of the country because it is under siege by the powers that the North Korean propaganda defines hostile. The priority remains the military one where all resources must converge.
Does North Korea want to be recognized as a nuclear state internationally?
North Korea is in fact a nuclear state. In 2012 he inserted the status of nuclear nation in all documents of the state, of the party, even in the Constitution, in September the law on nuclear policy of 2013 was updated.