With its last launch of a missile that flew over Japanese territory at a height of a thousand kilometers and hit 4,600 kilometers in the PacificNorth Korea has made it clear that it can put the United States and its allies in check, and that the strategy of attrition that Washington is developing in Europe against an isolated Russia is not valid for Asia and the Pacific. In this part of the world there are several countries willing to challenge Western hegemonism and use their nuclear potential as a deterrent.
The North Korean missile launched on Tuesday immediately activated the civil alert system in northern japansomething that had not happened since September 2017, when another North Korean rocket alerted Japanese military and civil authorities by flying over Japanese territory.
Missile crossing in the sky of the Far East
The tension around the Korean peninsula did not diminish in the following hours. In response to the North Korean missile launch, the naval forces of South Korea and the United States they conducted their own maneuvers with an aircraft carrier and rocket launches. One of these projectiles fell on the ground by accident and caused terror among the inhabitants of the town of Gangneung, on the South Korean east coast. As happened in Japan the day before, they thought they were being attacked by North Korea.
The North Korean missile launched has activated the civil alert system in northern Japan
These were the second allied maneuvers in recent days. Last week, for the first time in five years, US, Japanese and South Korean navies conducted major exercises in the Sea of Japan to counter the advances of North Korea in launching missiles from submarines and in its program of tactical nuclear weapons of limited destruction. This threat affects South Korea and Japan, and could also bring nuclear warheads to the island of Guam, the most advanced US territory in the world. northwestern pacific.
The launch of the North Korean ballistic missile that crossed the sky of Japan and unleashed all the alarms in this country has taken place just a dozen days before the start of the Congress of the Communist Party of China, main ally of Pyongyang and supporter of the outbursts of the North Korean regime. This information is not trivial, because the approval of the military bravado of North Korea on the part of China, always ready to underline that the geopolitical reality in the East is much more complex than the simplicity with which Washington intends to expose it.
The Biden Administration Has Not Improved Things on the Korean Peninsula
After the tenuous rapprochement between the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and the former US president, Donald Trump, who put the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula on the table at the 2018 Singapore summit, the arrival of Joe Biden to the White House he returned to the cold war and the threats in the Far East with all its harshness. The Biden Administration increased its pressure on China, showed its willingness to defend the island of Taiwan against an alleged threat from Beijing and carried out a greater US rapprochement with Japan and South Korea, highlighted by the recent visit to Seoul by the Vice President of USA, kamala harris.
So far this year, the Pyongyang regime has conducted more than forty missile tests
These two countries were the special guests at the NATO Summit in Madrid last June, where China was defined as the rival of the United States and the Atlantic Alliance in the Pacific. Japan and South Korea became NATO’s privileged partners on the other side of the world.
North Korea had already responded with the test of two other short-range missiles at sea, off the east coast of that country, to the visit that Harris made to the Demilitarized Zone that has separated the two Koreas since 1953. The armistice signed this year put an end to the inter-Korean armed conflict that began in 1950. Technically, however, the two Koreas are still at war, since no peace treaty was ever signed, and incidents between the armies of both countries on the most militarized border on the planet.
The United States takes the North Korean nuclear threat very seriously.
So far this year, the regime of Pyongyang It has carried out more than forty missile tests, some of them capable of carrying nuclear warheads and reaching United States territory, not only the island of Guam but also the west coast of that country. North Korea became a nuclear-armed country after its first atomic test in 2006. The North Korean military conducted its last nuclear test, the sixth, on September 3, 2017.
North Korea can produce half a dozen nuclear weapons a year
Trump was the first US president to set foot on North Korean soil on June 30, 2019, on the border between the two Koreas, to resume dialogue with Kim Jong-un. North Korea had imposed a moratorium on its military nuclear program a year earlier, but relations had cooled again after the failure of the Hanoi summit in February 2019, by not withdrawing the sanctions that weighed on Pyongyang in exchange for his commitment to denuclearize.
And the tension soared with Biden’s arrival at the White House in 2021. Nuclear rhetoric and mutual threats rose, with more missile tests by North Korea in 2022, answered by new naval maneuvers by the United States and its allies.
Last September, Kim Jong-un was blunt: “There will be no more negotiations on our nuclear power”. Although the number of atomic warheads is unknown, North Korea can produce half a dozen nuclear weapons a year. The threat is thus real.
US intelligence believes that the North Korean military could soon conduct a new underground atomic test at Punggye-ri. At the current moment of war in Europe, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, such a step would have a greater impact on the security of Asia and the Pacific and could lead to a regional arms race. North Korea has supported the strategy of the Russian president from the beginning, Vladimir Putinand greater support is not ruled out in the future.
A new North Korean nuclear test after the Congress of Chinese Communists?
Plans for a new North Korean nuclear test may be considering holding the Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, which will open on October 16 in Beijing. Any North Korean nuclear or ballistic missile experimentation capable of carrying nuclear warheads will have double international repercussions if it takes place immediately after such an important event for the Chinese comrades.
Beijing could gain international points if it opts to appease a North Korea
China is currently the only country with some ascendancy over the North Korean regime. In the CPC Congress, the re-election to the head of the country of the president is planned Xi Jinping. At a time of Chinese economic turmoil and when Beijing is accused of ambiguity or even covert support for Moscow in the war in Ukraine, the opening of a new source of tension around North Korea could bring problems to the Chinese leader.
Or perhaps it could be seen as an opportunity by Beijing, which could ignore North Korea’s dangerous maneuvers or even encourage Pyongyang’s war experiments from the shadows.
Who benefits from North Korea’s nuclear and arms race?
The pressure that the United States is exerting on China in relation to Taiwan, with the promise that it will help Taipei militarily if Beijing launches an invasion to recover the island, has led the Xi regime to consider all the variants and, in that case, the uproar that Kim Jong-un may cause in the region of the sea of japan with its nuclear tests and missile launches it can also help to divert the attention of China’s opponents at such a delicate moment. After the Congress, Beijing’s attitude could gain international points if it chooses to appease a North Korea more nuclear than ever, but for now that noise could help deflect internal discontent and Western pressure.
The importance of the North Korean missile that flew over Japan should not be minimized. In the first place, it shows a great technological advance in a type of rocket capable of leaving the atmosphere loaded with nuclear warheads and descending towards the eventual target. This exercise thus makes it possible to evaluate conditions that are very close to those that could occur in a real armed confrontation. But above all, Pyongyang’s objective is clearly seen: on the one hand, to show the United States its superiority in arms over South Korea and Japan. On the other, to teach China that it can be more than just the small angry ally that only causes problems and, in this way, become an eventual support if things get very ugly with the United States over Taiwan or any other source of conflict.
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North Korea shows its teeth and reminds that the nuclear threat also exists in the Far East
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