North Korea, Kim and the missiles: numbers, precedents and fears

Fears are growing over preparations for a possible nuclear test, which would be the seventh in Pyongyang’s history

Another provocation from North Korea, while fears are growing over preparations for a possible nuclear test, which would be the seventh in North Korea’s history, the first since September 2017. Pyongyang launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile (Irbm) to Japan from Mupyong-ri in North Korea’s northern province of Jagang, the first launch of an Irbm in eight months, as the South Korean news agency Yonhap points out. This is, highlights the Japanese Kyodo, the fifth launch in ten days with Pyongyang which has intensified the provocations after the visit of the vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris, in South Korea and in the demilitarized zone on the border between the two Koreas. The BBC writes of what appears to be a deliberate escalation to attract the attention of Tokyo and Washington.

According to the Seoul General Staff, the missile reached an altitude of 970 kilometers and a distance of 4,500 kilometers. The Minister of Defense of the Tokyo government, Yasukazu Hamada, spoke with reporters of 4,600 kilometers, the longest trajectory – wrote the Kyodo agency – ever covered by an intermediate-range missile launched from North Korea. It could potentially have hit the island of Guam.

The ballistic missile launched by North Korea it was the first to fly over Japan since September five years agoKyodo stressed. In general it is the seventh time this has happened but we have to go back to 2017 for the ‘previous’. The missile – said Hamada – flew over Japan for about a minute and ended up in the Pacific Ocean, outside the exclusive economic zone of Japan and could have been a Hwasong-12, which Pyongyang has already tested four more times.

In Japan, the latest North Korean launch triggered aalert for the inhabitants in the north, invited to take shelter, while the US and South Korea responded with joint exercises with “precision bombing” simulations. The provocation came as Japan, the US and South Korea work on strengthening defenses in response – highlights the BBC – to the growing North Korean threat: last week the three countries conducted joint naval exercises for the first time since 2017, which they do not like. to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. And, remembers the BBC, after those five years ago, North Korea launched two missiles that flew over Japan. A week later came the nuclear test.

Growing concerns about developments is the law by which North Korea declared its status as a country with nuclear weapons at the beginning of last month. A move Kim called “irreversible.” The North Korean leader has vowed that Pyongyang “will never give up” nuclear weapons and said that there can be no negotiations on denuclearization. The law, passed unanimously by the Supreme People’s Assembly, also sanctioned – as reported by CNN – Pyongyang’s right to preventive nuclear attacks. “There are signs that a new round of escalation is already taking shape – writes the Washington Post – with North Korea rejecting openings and perhaps preparing for a seventh nuclear test in a diplomatic stalemate with Washington and Washington. of changing security dynamics in the region “.