North Korea has announced that the missile it flew over Japan was only a prelude to an attack on US territory Guam.
The UN Security Council has unanimously condemned North Korea's firing of a ballistic missile over Japan
The North Korean nuclear program has been a source of concern for the US and the international community for decades. In July 2017, North Korea successfully test launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). The state media announced that the first ICBM, which was launched on July 3rd, was a “gift” to America. At the time, experts said that this ICBM could reach Alaska. The second one can reportedly reach a number of cities in the US including Boston and New York.
After North Korea test launched a second ICBM, the UN Security Council unanimously imposed fresh sanctions on the country. These sanctions can significantly hurt North Korea’s $3 billion annual export revenue. In August 2017, US imposed further sanctions on Chinese and Russian companies and individuals for seemingly aiding North Korea.
In August 2017, North Korea fired several short-range missiles into the sea. The country followed those launches by firing a missile over Japan. A Hwasong-12 rocket, it is reported to have flown a distance of more than 2,700km.
North Korea has announced that the missile it fired over Japan was only the “first step” in its military operations in the Pacific. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called this development an “unprecedented” threat to the country.
The UN has also unanimously condemned the actions of North Korea. The body also noted that these actions are a threat to the global community. The statement read, “The Security Council stresses that these DPRK [North Korean] actions are not just a threat to the region, but to all UN member states. The Security Council expresses its grave concern that the DPRK is, by conducting such a launch over Japan as well as its recent actions and public statements, deliberately undermining regional peace and stability."
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi has suggested that more sanctions might be imposed on North Korea after these tests. British Prime Minister, Theresa May, who in Japan currently noted that China should play a more decisive role in ending the crisis. She said, “The actions of North Korea are illegal, they are significant actions of provocation, it’s outrageous, that’s why we will be redoubling our efforts with our international partners to put pressure on North Korea to stop these illegal activities. China has a key role to play in this…I have said this to President Xi, I know others have as well, we think that China has that important role to play and we would encourage China to do everything it can to bring pressure to bear on North Korea to stop this.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un however has signaled that he would not be heeding the warnings of the international community. North Korea state media KCNA quoted him as noting that US territory Guam would be next. He is reported to have said, “The current ballistic rocket launching drill like a real war is the first step of the military operation of the Korean People’s army in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam.”
Our assessment is that the real threat is the price that the world will have to pay for a misadventure or an error in judgement. The time pressure now created by North Korean technical advances together with Trump’s volatile and impulsive personality is a dangerous mix. Threats of fire and fury on one side by Trump and an offer of talks by the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson on the other, will leave both China and North Korea flummoxed, and prone to miscalculation. The issue we now face is in the consistency of messaging. We believe that the days of good options is rapidly coming to an end.