The last time Pyongyang tested so many weapons in a month was in 2019, after negotiations with leader Kim Jong-un failed. Now the Marshal’s main goal is to get the attention of the United States
Kim Jong-un passed: this morning the North Korean artillery launched a pair of missiles that brings the number of tests in January to six (before today on 5, 11, 14, 17, 25) and 10 the number of bombs fired. They all ended up in the sea east of the Korean peninsula and all in all they made a hole in the water, if what you think the Marshal’s primary goal of drawing the attention of the United States and obtain economic concessions, following a script that has been staged for years.
Joe Biden currently too busy handling the Ukrainian crisis to care about Kim Jong-un. And in the previous months he had only the Chinese dossier in mind. Kim must feel ignored and he can’t like that, especially after the overdose of international limelight granted to him in 2018 and 2019 by the three summits with Donald Trump and the highly emotional meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Missiles remain a matter of study and concern for military analysts. The first statistical observation: this January 2022 is the densest of North Korean launches
. They have been proven hypersonic, railway, solid fuel, cruise bombs.
According to the first surveys, today’s ones are from short-range ballistic type. They flew for 190 km, at a maximum altitude of 20 km. Ankit Panda, a Nuclear Policy Program expert at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, estimates that the depressed trajectory of these latest missiles means they are programmed for extremely short flight to targets.
Panda tells NK News that this month’s test pattern reflects a level of operational readiness; it appears that the Pyongyang army has replaced the customary large land maneuvers in winter with much more visible missile activity.
North Korea advances on the path of ballistic missiles (whose tests have been banned by numerous UN resolutions); but the main purpose now would be to get noticed and get back on Washington’s agenda of priorities.
Short-range missiles do not seem to bother the Biden administration.
In 2017, it took three tests of ICBMs (Intercontinental ballistic missiles) with a range of over 12,000 kilometers, capable of hitting American cities, to unleash President Trump’s threat of fire and fury against Rocket Man Kim. Now Kim Jong-un still does not seem to have decided to relaunch that extreme strategy of provocation, he is satisfied with showing hypersonic launches, from trains, all at short range. They are no less dangerous for: they put cities in South Korea and Japan within their range, as well as American bases in both countries.
Washington merely repeated the offer of talks without preconditions, which do not attract Kim Jong-un, anxious to obtain a substantial discount in international economic sanctions. We have made it clear to Pyongyang that we are willing to go anywhere, talk about everything, we have no reservations, said Mark Lambert, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Blinken for the Korean question. Conclusion: Serious discussions are needed on the denuclearization of North Korea; if Kim has this will, there can be promising developments. now well known that Kim Jong-un for not willing to give up his nuclear and missile arsenal, which represents his life insurance policy (as the end of Saddam and Gaddafi teaches). It remains only to bet on a next move: still a trickle of short-range missiles or a return to ICBs? Or the worst case scenario: a nuclear test.