North Korea Fires Fourth Missile in a Week As South Flexes Military Muscle
North Korea has fired a fourth missile in a week. The missiles flew at a maximum altitude of thirty to fifty kilometers, according to South Korean estimates. Japan’s vice defense minister said the missiles showed an “irregular trajectory.” Observers say the missiles’ low trajectory could be an indication of North Korea’s development of nuclear capability or highly maneuverable missiles.
North Korea tests four short-range missiles in a week
As tensions between the two Koreas continue to rise, North Korea continues to test missiles. The most recent launch came on January 11 and came after the North launched four hypersonic missiles on January 5. Such missiles are difficult to detect because they fly at low altitudes for long periods.
South Korea reacted to the latest launches of North Korean missiles by increasing its surveillance posture and maintaining a strong military presence.
South Korea, the country that encircles the peninsula, said it was concerned about the proliferation of missiles and said the country should cease these launches immediately. North Korea’s missile launches are a destabilizing factor in the region and have a significant effect on regional stability.
North Korea has been subject to sanctions following several missile launches, including a recent test of a hypersonic missile. The United Nations Security Council has repeatedly passed resolutions that have called for sanctions against North. The missile launches by the North demonstrate the regime’s determination to develop weapons of mass destruction and threaten international peace and security.
North Korea finalizes preparations for a nuclear test
Saturday’s two short-range missiles were launched from Sunan, north of the capital Pyongyang, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. It estimated the range at 350 km (220 miles) at 30 km (20 miles) altitude and a speed of Mach 6.
Japan’s coast guard reported at least two suspected ballistic missile tests by Pyongyang. The missiles flew 400 km and 350 km, reaching an altitude of 50 km, said Toshiro Ino, state minister of defense.
The international community and the South are trying to persuade the North to return to the negotiating table and avoid a nuclear test.
South Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok said Tuesday that while there were no signs of an impending test, Pyongyang will likely conduct the test if talks are not restarted. Meanwhile, North has said it would conduct nuclear tests in the future, to bolster its war deterrent against U.S. aggression.
The missiles were rolled out on vehicles that were used to transport the medium-range Musudan missile. North tested the Musudan last year. Yonhap News Agency reported that the new missiles were likely ICBMs.
Although the missiles were not formally identified, the number and type of missiles that were on display were impressive and showed that Kim Jong Un is relentless in his pursuit of an ICBM.
North Korea’s obsession with nuclear weapons deepens the suffering of its people
Most American observers view the North nuclear issue as a development from the early 1990s, a time when Pyongyang leaders faced unprecedented challenges to their regime and sought security through nuclear weapons and diplomatic breakthroughs with the United States.
But that view is ahistoric and Americacentric, writes Jonathan D. Pollack, professor of Asian and Pacific Studies at the Naval War College and a research associate of the National Asia Research Program.
The latest tests by the DPRK have caused international alarm. The United Kingdom, for one, has condemned the tests, saying “DPRK is no longer a regional threat, but an intercontinental one.” In recent days, Israel and other nations have condemned the DPRK’s provocative behavior, saying that the DPRK’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons will not serve the people.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said in a report in July that the North had been launching short-range missiles that fly low and irregular trajectories, characteristics observed since May 2019 that are likely designed for higher war-fighting effectiveness.