‘N. Korea testing waters to see how far it can go’
North Korea has drawn international condemnation once again – this time by conducting a new missile test on Sunday.
Washington responded in a statement reading “North Korea has been a flagrant menace for far too long... Let this latest provocation serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea.”
Sreeram Chaulia, dean of the Jindal School of International Affairs, says that it seems that North Korean leader Kim Jong believes that the Americans “cannot credibly attack” his country, unlike Syria and Libya, which gave up their nuclear weapons programs.
He told RT: “They take pride in their militaristic possessions of nuclear weapons and what looks like up to medium range ballistic missiles, and so on. I think they are counting on and, in a way, provoking Trump to do what he has threatened to do – which is to use military force, launch maybe a missile or a preemptive strike on North Korea, and to see for himself what the consequence will be. I think they are trying to push the limits. It looks like the timing is to send the message of defiance: “No matter how many aircraft carriers you send, no matter how many ring fences you make around me with your allies, at the end of the day, I am going to continue developing my missile and nuclear weapons programs, come what may.”
In Chaulia’s opinion, Pyongyang is “testing the waters” to see how far it can go.
“It looks like they are trying to negotiate from some position of strength vis-à-vis the Americans, and even vis-à-vis the Japanese and the South Koreans, while they have a conducive climate in South Korea now with the liberal regime willing to offer rapprochement. Unfortunately, Kim Jong Un has gone the other way, where he believes that the more he provokes, the more he will get away with things, because he believes that even China can’t stop them anymore, although China has been warning them against [missile tests],” he said.
Washington stated that the missile had posed a threat to Russia, but has Moscow denied that, saying the missile landed some 500 kilometers from the Russian territory.
Commenting on the conflicting accounts, Chaulia argued that it is unlikely that North Korea has developed “precision-guided missiles.”
“I think they are walking their way up gradually through trial and error. I don’t think they can directly [launch] a missile exactly the way they want to get. It looks like a short-range missile that they’ve tested and fired into the Sea of Japan. It is just that, usually, they go towards Japan, but now, this time, they have fallen closer to Russian shores. I don’t think it is intended,” he said.
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