North Korea has long been a source of geopolitical tension: firing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles has been a defining feature of their behavior. Recent reports indicate that the country has restarted their missile programs and is planning to launch missiles in the future. On May 9th, 2020, there were reports that North Korea had fired multiple ballistic missiles off their east coast. This has caused alarm among the international community, and sparked debate on the efficacy of the Trump administration’s foreign policy decisions with regards to the country.
The missile launches were met with immediate condemnation from international leaders. South Korea’s Foreign Minister, Kang Kyung-hwa, was particularly critical, stating that “such military provocation from North Korea is not acceptable.” Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, also condemned the launches, stating that North Korea must “completely abide by the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council”. Russia and China also released statements condemning North Korea for the launches, though they stopped short of explicitly condemning the a nation-wide reluctance to enter into diplomatic negotiations.
Impact On US-North Korean Relations
The US had been making significant strides in its attempts to establish a diplomatic relationship with North Korea, with the US-North Korean summit in 2018 signalling a newfound willingness to engage diplomatically. The recent missile launches could have a detrimental effect on this relationship. The US is likely to react by imposing economic sanctions on North Korea and attempting to rally international support in this effort.
North Korea’s Motivations
It is difficult to speculate on the motivations behind North Korea’s decision to launch the missiles, as the nation is renowned for its secrecy. However, some experts suggest that the launches were an attempt to gain a diplomatic advantage over the US. North Korea may believe that the best way to achieve their political goals is to hold the US to ransom, threatening to use nuclear weapons if the US does not accede to the nation’s demands. Others have suggested that the launches were a response to a perceived lack of respect from the international community.
The international community must now decide on how best to respond to North Korea’s missile launches. Diplomatic engagement is often seen as the best way forward, though this requires trust and goodwill on both sides of the diplomatic table. Alternatively, increased economic sanctions may be used to try and change North Korea’s calculus, though the efficacy of this approach is questionable, as the nation’s economy is already in dire straits.
The Need For Cultural Understanding
It is important to recognize that in order to truly bring peace and stability to the Korean peninsula, there needs to be a deeper understanding of North Korean culture and society. By better understanding the context in which the missile launches have occurred, it will be easier to come to a diplomatic solution that is beneficial to all involved.
The Role Of Technology
As North Korea becomes more isolated from the rest of the world and reliant on its own technological infrastructure, understanding the role of technology in their missile program is of increasing importance. Analyzing the technology used in their missile systems could help identify potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited by the US or international community in order to discourage further missile launches.
The Need For Intermittent Sanctions
Economic sanctions may be effective in the short term in discouraging North Korea from engaging in further missile tests, though it is unlikely that this approach will be viable in the long run. Instead, intermittent sanctions should be used in order to maintain pressure on the nation without completely isolating them.
The Interplay Of Nuclear And Missile Tests
While North Korea has refrained from further nuclear testing in recent years, their missile program has continued unabated. It is important to understand the interplay between these two aspects of the nation’s military program in order to better assess the North Korean threat.