Date: 5 December 2022

Potential worsening of U.S. – North Korea relations following Pyongyang’s successful test missile launch

In a recent stunt, North Korea launched an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) landing near Japanese waters. South Korean officials suspect the missile to be a Hwasong-17, Pyongyang’s most powerful ICBM.

SOURCE: Pixabay.com author: Geralt https://pixabay.com/pl/photos/korea-p%c3%b3%c5%82nocna-rakieta-wojna-usa-2692779/

It flew at a distance of approximately 1000 kilometers and landed roughly 210km (130 miles) west of Hokkaido near the Japanese coast. This comes as a strong message to Washington regarding Pyongyang’s ability to target not only American allies but also the possibility to set a target for the mainland United States with nuclear weapons. While North Korea’s true nuclear capabilities are not entirely known, the threat of nuclear weapons pointed at U.S. soil has created cause for worry in Washington. In a press statement, Choe Son Hui, the Foreign Minister of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), said “The DPRK made clear that it could not but take indispensable action for self-defence under the worrying security environment in the Korean peninsula and the region caused by the U.S. and its vassal forces’ dangerous military cooperation against the DPRK. It also sent a clear signal that the U.S. should not make rash acts if it does not want disastrous consequences.”

While North Korea continues to perpetuate baseless narratives in an attempt to justify its destabilising actions, the United Nations and the G7 have called for condemnation and repercussions if they refuse to cease such activities. During a meeting called by the United States, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield remarked, “We will offer another opportunity for the council to hold the DPRK accountable for its dangerous rhetoric and its destabilizing actions.” While attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, Vice President Kamala Harris held an emergency meeting with leaders from South Korea, Japan, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. She stated, “We strongly condemn these actions and we again call for North Korea to stop further unlawful, destabilizing acts.” Despite the United Nations imposing strict sanctions on North Korea for earlier missile launches, the Organization has been unable to impose new sanctions following objections from both Russia and China in the UN Security Council. In 2022 alone, North Korea has launched 63 ballistic missiles, a stark contrast to last year’s 25 launches.

In response to increasing aggression from the North, South Korea and the United States held joint military exercises. A recent drill performed off the DPRK’s eastern coast involved two U.S. B-1B bombers, South Korean F-35A, and U.S. F-16 fighter jets. In the drill, these fighter jets attacked mock missile launch pads with laser-guided with laser-guided bombs. Further, U.S. President Joe Biden himself met with leaders from South Korea and Japan in a meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He remarked, “For years our countries have been engaging in trilateral cooperation out of a shared concern for the nuclear missile threats that North Korea poses to our people. And North Korea continues provocative behaviour. This partnership is even more important than it’s ever been.”

The analysis highlights the increasing capacity of North Korea’s long-range ballistic missiles. In the words of 2017 US Defense Secretary James Mattis, these particular sets of missiles have the ability to hit “everything in the world.”

North Korea’s pattern over the past months is presented with fears of an escalation in the region. As such, North Korea’s activity has been by and large presented in response to US military activity around the Korean Peninsula. With Seoul and Tokyo recently “testing new missile interceptors and the U.S. Space Force establishing its first unit in the Indo-Pacific region” a possible increase in US military presence in the region might be on its way. Particular attention has been attributed to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) present in the Indo-Pacific aimed at increasing defence capability to counter “medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles” against possible threats posed by both China and North Korea.

 

Jack Kakasenko Jack is working towards his BS degree in Aerospace Engineering and Russian Studies at North Carolina State University. He is interested in the political and historical relationship between Ukraine and Russia, and it’s role in international affairs.

Edited by: Katja-Elisabeth Herrmann

 

Sources:
1. Rich, Motoko and Sang-Hun, Choe. “North Korea Launches Another ICBM, One of Its Most Powerful Yet.” The New York Times. November 17, 2022. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/17/world/asia/north-korea-missile.html Accessed November, 2022.
2. Katsumura, Mariko and Smith, Josh. “North Korea Fires Long-Range Missile Landing Near Japan, Draws Condemnation.” Reuters. November 18, 2022. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/north-korea-fires-ballistic-missile-south-korea-military-says-2022-11-18/ Accessed November, 2022.
3. Korean Central News Agency. “Press Statement of DPRK Foreign Minister.” November 21, 2022. Available at: https://dprktoday.com/abroad/news/41705?lang = Accessed November, 2022.
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5. Wright, Jasmine, “Harris dives into Asian diplomacy amid questions back home about her political future” CNN (November 23, 2022) Available at: <https://edition.cnn.com/2022/11/23/politics/harris-asia-trip/index.html> Accessed November 2022.
6. Vejpongsa, Tassanee and Pathi, Krutika. “War, North Korea Missile Test Loom Over Asia-Pacific Summit.” AP News. November 18, 2022. Available at: https://apnews.com/article/g-20-summit-health-business-china-canada-daa03c57c21d4b2b61fac0061b00321b Accessed November, 2022.
7. Besheer, Margaret. “US Seeks International Condemnation of North Korean Missile Launch at UN.” VOA News. November 21, 2022. Available at: https://www.voanews.com/a/us-seeks-international-condemnation-of-north-korean-missile-launch-at-un-/6844019.html Accessed November, 2022.
8. NHK World-Japan. “S.Korea, US Hold Second Joint Air Drill In Response To N.Korea’s ICBM Launch.” November 19, 2022. Available at: https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221119_16/ Accessed November, 2022.
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