The West is concerned about the Ukraine crisis and the pandemic. At the same time, North Korea has conducted a record number of missile tests.
On Monday morning, the North Korean authorities confirmed what the neighboring countries had already seen. This weekend, they tested a new ballistic medium-range missile of the Hwasong-12 type. But the range should be greater than in many years, and allows the rocket in the worst case to reach Guam, which is American territory, writes BBC.
This is described as the most comprehensive missile test since 2017.
North Korean authorities published rare photos from the launch. There will be pictures showing the Korean Peninsula from space. However, it is not possible to confirm the authenticity and whether they really are from a camera on the rocket.
The launch takes place after a month with an abnormal number of missile tests. It’s the seventh only in January. according to The Korea Times There have not been as many tests in a month since Kim Jong-un took power in North Korea in 2011.
This worries the United States.
Fear the end of the break
– It’s not just what they did yesterday. But it is that it comes after a significant number of tests this month, an unnamed spokesman for US authorities told Reuters.
South Korea and Japan discovered the test shooting on Sunday. They have estimated that the rocket traveled back around 800 kilometers and reached an altitude of 2000 kilometers. It landed outside Japan. With full force, the missile can reportedly reach a full 4000 kilometers.
The last time a Hwasong-12 missile was tested happened before North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un had talks with then-US President Donald Trump.
Then North Korea declared a halt in testing of nuclear weapons and the longest intercontinental missiles. But all the following year, Kim said he no longer was bound by the moratorium. Now both the Americans and the South Koreans fear that North Korea will fully resume testing its long-range missiles or nuclear weapons.
Analysts wonder why North Korea is doing this right now:
The United States and most of the West are concerned about the crisis in Ukraine and the corona pandemic.
Markus Garlauskas at the Atlantic Council tells Reuters that North Korea benefits from the fact that the world is preoccupied with other crises. But he does not think the country is doing this just to get attention.
Rachel Minyoung Lee, who previously worked for the CIA but now works for the Stimson Center in Washington, believes that North Korea will try to “normalize” that they have such weapons.
“North Korea has repeatedly said that it has the right to develop and test weapons just like other countries,” she told Reuters.
The official North Korean news agency states that the purpose of the test was technical tests to examine the precision of the Hwasong-12. Analysts do not rule out that it may be part of the goal.
Some also point out that the test activity may also have internal medical motives, to increase morale in the hard-pressed North Korean population before the 80th anniversary of Kim’s father in February and the 110th anniversary of his grandfather Kim Il-sung in April, writes The New York Times.
But the fact that there are so many launches in a short time, creates great concern. The fear is that they will be the start of new instability. In 2017, the same thing happened.
Fear new round with increased excitement
Cheon Seong-whun was formerly head of the Korea Institute for National Unification. He says to the New York Times that he sees a familiar pattern of North Korean test shootings, new rounds of negotiations, breakdowns in negotiations and diplomatic pause.
– Now North Korea started on this again and increases the tension with missile provocations. “Their goal is to get the United States and its allies to accept their nuclear arsenal,” Cheon told the newspaper.
US authorities see the missile tests as another provocation to try to get the United States to ease sanctions against the regime in Pyongyang, writes the news agency AP.
The Biden administration wants to start talks about the nuclear program again.