Kamis, 25 Maret 2021

North Korea ballistic missile tests spark fears of Kim Jong-un’s aggression -

After conducting two suspected ballistic missile tests into the ocean near Japan, North Korea has been branded a “catastrophic threat” to global security amid fears of leader Kim Jong-un’s renewed aggression.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the missiles were fired yesterday – when the Olympic torch relay commenced in Fukushima – though it’s unlikely the two events were connected.

The United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions ban North Korea from testing ballistic missiles.

“The first launch in just less than a year represents a threat to peace and stability in Japan and the region, and violates UN resolutions,” Mr Suga said.

Speaking to Reuters, former Japanese naval commander Yoji Koda said that the latest test launches may be “just the beginning of North Korean fervour”.

“North Korea may gradually launch several types of missiles,” he said.

“North Korea will confirm the response of the United States and then the next attempt would say be intermediate with a range of 3000 or 4000 kilometres, and then North Korea will launch long range (missiles).”

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The tests come just days after officials in both the United States and South Korea said North Korea had carried out a weapons test on the weekend, launching two short-range projectiles in a move that was widely expected since US Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s first overseas trip.

President Joe Biden labelling the test “business as usual” may have been a factor in the latest launches, senior director of Korean Studies at Washington’s Centre for the National Interest, Harry Kazanis, said.

“This latest North Korean missile launch is most likely a reaction to US President Joe Biden’s downplaying and seeming to laugh off their weekend missile tests,” he said.

“The Kim regime, just like during the Trump years, will react to even the slightest of what they feel are any sort of loss of face or disparaging comments coming out of Washington.

“While Biden’s comments and chuckle were clearly not meant to trigger a reaction, the North Koreans will use any pretext that is offered to raise the ante.”

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The last time North Korea tested a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile was in 2017, before a meeting between Kim and former US president Donald Trump.

“Biden is already shifting slightly from the approach Trump took in that he is prioritising co-ordination with allies, especially South Korea and Japan,” research fellow at RUSI, Cristina Varriale, told The Sun.

But, according to King’s College London’s Dr Ramon Pancho, the 78-year-old will also “look to be more balanced than Trump on North Korea”.

“The sanctions will not be going anywhere, but there will be more engagement at the working level – and it’s clear to everyone that Biden has no incentive to meet with Kim Jong-un,” he told the publication.

The regime is the most “potentially catastrophic security threat” in 2021, senior fellow for Korea studies at the Council for Foreign Relations, Scott Snyder, added, supposedly intending to “steam ahead” with its nuclear weapons program despite ongoing economic hardship for North Korea.

Having unveiled two new weapons in recent months, Mr Snyder said that while Kim has been “transparent” about his intentions to develop more over the next five years, “what is harder to predict is how realistic these aspirations are”.

“But the past record suggests the likelihood of ongoing progress toward these aims,” he said.

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2021-03-25 21:57:31Z

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