Despite global concerns, North Korea has launched a record number of missiles this year, raising alarm in its immediate neighborhood and whose ripples have been felt as far as the USA. North Korea has been using missile tests as a means to pressurize the West to ease economic sanctions on it which have resulted in no success. How the North Korean belligerence is a dangerous gambit, let’s find out.
Reasons for North Korean recent missile launches: North Korea has always protested the defense cooperation between the US, South Korea, and Japan. The recent military exercises by South Korea, Japan, and the U.S has ruffled the Kim Jong-un administration. Moreover, these tests are part of Kim’s long-term plans to expand his country’s nuclear and missile capabilities in complete contravention of international appeal. Also, these tests are desperate attempts to try to coerce the US and its allies to ease some of the economic sanctions. The Korean economy has suffered a lot since it was banned from exporting its major commodities — including coal, iron ore, seafood, and textiles in 2017.
The previous attempts to get a concession from the USA have failed. Kim’s meetings with President Donald Trump in 2018 and 2019 did not yield any results.
Now, North Korea wants to bring Americans back to the negotiating table. For this North Korea is trying to build pressure on the US and its allies through these missile tests.
The enigmatic North Korean leadership is resorting to arms tactics with some analysts even warning that it may conduct another nuclear test very soon. North Korea also wants recognition as a nuclear power which is raising the political temperature. But So far the North Korean efforts have only backfired with the US and its allies renewing their resolve to counter the nuclear threat unitedly.
Missiles possessed by North Korea: The Kim Jong-Un regime has been madly pursuing the missile and nuclear arms race for a long time to achieve parity with other great powers. It has tested a variety of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and hypersonic missiles. The missile fired over Japan in October last month was an intermediate-range Hwasong-12 which is capable of hitting targets as far as 4,500 km.
Though the recent ballistic missile test is believed to have failed.
The Hwasong-14 ballistic missile that North Korea has been testing has a range of 8,000km. Its Hwasong-15 missile has a range of 13,000km which bring the whole of the USA within its striking capability. The Hwasong-17 missile unveiled in October 2020 has a striking capability of more than 15,000 km that could carry three or four warheads.
North Korea also possesses medium-range missiles consisting of Nodong (1500 km) and Pukguksong-2 (2,000 km). Other deadly missiles in its arsenal include Musudan (4000 km), Hwasong 12 (4500 km), and Hwasong 14 (10,400 km). It also possesses robust short-range missiles.
North Korea’s nuclear capabilities: The nuclear bomb tested by Noth Korea in 2017 at the Punggye-ri test site had a force, or “yield”, of between 100-370 kilotons. It must be noted that a 100-kiloton bomb is six times more powerful than the one the US dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. According to North Korea, this was its first thermonuclear device.
It has conducted six underground tests at its testing site in Punggye-ri. North Korea declared in 2018 that it will close the testing site as it has “verified” its nuclear capabilities but if reports are to be believed the nuclear test site was open once again. Since April 2009 the IAEA also has no physical access to North Korea’s nuclear facilities
North Korea conducted its nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, 2013, twice in 2016, and in 2017.