North Korea Fires Two Ballistic Missiles in Fourth Test

North Korea fires a SRMB on Monday, 17th January, 2021

North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles towards Japan’s coast. These missiles were part of the recent tests that the country has been conducting. The aim of these exercises is to strengthen the country’s military. They were launched from a neighbouring airport near Pyongyang. This news has also been confirmed by South Korea’s military. 

These tests were highly condemned by the chief cabinet secretary of Japan, Mr. Hirokazu Matsuno. He stated that such tests were a threat to the peace and sovereignty of Japan.

It marks the fourth test that the country has conducted over the past two weeks. The previous three tests involved hypersonic missiles and short-range ballistic missiles. However, the previously launched ballistic missiles were fired from train cars.

Their recent test involving a SRBM travelled 236 miles and reached 26 miles in height. The frequent missile testing in such a short period of time is a grave concern as it gives a horrifying look into the volume of the country’s nuclear weapons.

USA and North Korea

President Joe Biden was quick to take action as he imposed new sanctions on North Korea. Biden pushed the U.N Security Council to take drastic measures against the country. This would include ostracizing multiple North Korean individuals and organizations. 

The U.S administration made repeated calls to North Korea. They presented them with the option to surrender their nuclear weapons. However, North Korea was quick to respond. 

In a statement, North Korea defended its actions by stating that self-defence is their sovereign right. The USA is just trying to isolate the country with increased sanctions. The rigid sanctions would destroy any hopes for trade in the country. 

Why Now?

North Korea wants to show its displeasure with the US-South Korea relationship. This displeasure has translated into nuclear weapons testing for the country.

The increased number of sanctions means it would be difficult to keep the economy afloat. This has been a challenge particularly during the pandemic. The missile testing is a way for Kim to showcase that the sanctions won’t impact the country’s defense budget. 

North Korea has struggled with food shortages. This was majorly due to its self-imposed restrictions on China. As North Korea wanted to prevent the virus from spreading in their country. 

China and Winter Olympics

China is hosting the Winter Olympics this year. The event would commence on the 4th February 2021. This is a prestigious event for China that holds immense importance for the country. 

It is unlikely that China would welcome the missile testing operations. Particularly as the eve of the Winter Olympics comes nearer. As Kim conducted the fourth missile testing, China appeared to be diplomatic. 

They didn’t condemn North Korea’s actions and chose to stay in the shadows.  However, it’s assumed that North Korea would be done with the testing before the 4th of February. 

Kim’s Strategy

Although North Korea is amidst an economic crisis, Kim doesn’t want to appear weak. He doesn’t want his rivals to get the impression that they are relying on China’s aid through the border. 

The missile testing puts the country in the spotlight. However, it also makes Kim a strong leader despite the increased economic crisis. The testing came at a strategic time prior to South Korea’s elections. 

Should China put aside its interests and condemn North Korea’s testing of nuclear weapons?

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