North Korean missile launches are Biden’s worst test in Asia; read the review

Continues after advertising

TOKYO, ASSOCIATED PRESS – A drumbeat of releases from North Korean missiles increasingly powerful. An aircraft carrier USA floating on the Korean peninsula. North Korean warplanes crossing the border with South Korea. Worldwide cries of condemnation and concern.

It’s a pattern that has repeated itself many times over the years and, as in the past, there are many signs in the last cycle that point to North Korea testing a nuclear bomb.

Yes, this is part of North Korea’s dogged march toward building a viable arsenal of nuclear missiles capable of hitting any city on the US mainland. But the gist of the country’s new series of missile tests this year — the biggest ever — is also intended to grab the attention of a distracted, important audience: Joe Biden.

A huge monitor shows a North Korean ballistic missile flying over Japan, in Sapporo, Hokkaido, northern Japan on October 4, 2022
A huge monitor shows a North Korean ballistic missile flying over Japan, in Sapporo, Hokkaido, northern Japan on October 4, 2022 Photograph: Kyodo News via AP

Washington has responded to North Korean missile launches with harsh statements and weapons launches in military exercises with its ally, Seoul.

So far, however, there is little indication that the Biden administration will – or even want – to pursue the messy and politically dangerous diplomacy needed to peacefully resolve an issue that has plagued US presidents for decades.

Thursday’s launches, believed to be two short-range ballistic missiles, were North Korea’s sixth round in less than two weeks. On Tuesday, Pyongyang held its longest test ever, sending a missile capable of hitting Guam, US territory in the Pacific, flying over another major US ally, Japan.

Continues after advertising

Later on Thursday, North Korea deployed 12 warplanes near the South Korean border, the most heavily armed in the world, prompting South Korea to respond by sending 30 military planes.

North Korea is a small, impoverished and largely shunned nation sandwiched between great powers. But the country built, against great odds, its nuclear weapons program through tenacity, shrewd political maneuvering and relentless persistence.

Every North Korean weapons test does at least three things at once. Allows to Kim Jong-un show his people that he is a strong leader capable of standing up to foreign aggressors.

Its scientists can work to solve the technological problems that still bog down the weapons program, including miniaturizing warheads to fit a series of missiles and ensuring that long-range missiles can smoothly re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.

And, perhaps most importantly, each test sends a clear message that despite all the many problems facing the Biden administration – the war in ukraine; growing Chinese aggression; a shaky economy at home – Washington must deal with North Korea as it is. That is, a nation that, after many years of struggle, is on the verge of being a legitimate nuclear power, not one that has shown signs of being willing to give up its nuclear weapons.

In the long run, Kim likely wants US recognition that North Korea is a full-fledged nuclear state.. The talks could then arrange for a North Korean rollback of parts of its weapons program in exchange for lifting crippling international sanctions and eventually signing a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War.

Continues after advertising

In the medium term, North Korea wants the nearly 30,000 US forces in South Korea to leave, paving the way for its eventual control of the peninsula.

In the short term, Pyongyang maintained that negotiations cannot take place unless Washington abandons its “hostility”.

US President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

That means an end to economic sanctions, the presence of these US troops and its annual military exercises with South Korean soldiers that the North sees as preparation for an invasion.

It’s unclear, however, how patient Kim can afford to be. The North’s economy, which has never been a big deal, appears to be worse off than at any other time under his rule, after three years of some of the world’s tightest border controls during the pandemic, crushing sanctions, natural disasters and mismanagement.

Their weapons tests could be a move to force more favorable terms into future negotiations.

Something similar happened after a string of long-range missile launches and nuclear tests during the Trump administration that many feared could lead to war.

Continues after advertising

Donald Trump held face-to-face meetings with Kim in 2018 and 2019 aimed at convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear program in exchange for economic and political benefits. Talks failed, with North Korea refusing to go far enough on its disarmament pledges.

After taking office last year, Joe Biden signaled a rejection of Trump’s personalistic diplomacy with Kim and of Trump’s “strategic patience” policy. Barack Obamain favor of another approach, in which the North gave up parts of its program in exchange for benefits and sanctions relief.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump prepare to shake hands at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, June 30, 2019
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump prepare to shake hands at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, June 30, 2019 Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

The goal, however, remained the same: the total denuclearization of North Korea. A growing number of analysts believe this may now be impossible, as Kim likely sees a completed nuclear weapons program as his only guarantee for the regime’s survival. Meanwhile, the temperature rises.

For the second time in two weeks, Washington sent the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan into waters east of South Korea, a move North Korea called “a serious threat to the stability of the situation on the Korean Peninsula”.

The United States and South Korea this week responded to Kim’s missiles with their own ground-to-ground ballistic missiles and precision-guided bombs dropped from fighter jets.

As the Biden administration considers next steps, it is closely watching how North Korea’s weapons tests influence its allies in northeast Asia.

Continues after advertising

When North Korea fired its medium-range missile over Japan on Tuesday, there were moments of panic as sirens warned residents in the north of the country to retreat, train service stopped and newspapers ran special issues.

In South Korea, whose capital Seoul is about an hour’s drive from the inter-Korean border, each advance in the North’s nuclear program raises doubts about Washington’s promise of nuclear protection, prompting calls for a nuclear program of its own.

The question for some in Seoul is: if North Korea threatens to hit US cities with its nuclear-armed missiles, will Washington really intervene if Pyongyang attacks?

Looking ahead, then: Expect more missile tests – and possibly, right around the corner of the US midterm elections in November, a nuclear test – as North Korea continues to maneuver in its long-running confrontation with Washington and its proxies. allies.

*Foster Klug, AP News Director for Koreas, Japan, Australia and the South Pacific, has covered North Korea – from Washington, Seoul and Pyongyang – since 2005.

Source link

About Admin

Check Also

The attack in Aracruz and the reduction of the age of criminal responsibility

A week ago, a 16-year-old teenager, carrying the guns of his police father, invaded two …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *