Authors: HYUNG-JIN KIM and KIM TONG-HYUNG
SEOUL, South Korea (Associated Press)-North Korea and South Korea tested ballistic missiles a few hours apart on Wednesday to demonstrate military prowess, which is sure to exacerbate rivalry when negotiations aimed at depriving North Korea of its nuclear program are at a deadlock. This is a very stressful situation.
According to the Presidential Office of South Korea, this was South Korea’s first submarine-launched missile test. According to the Presidential Office of South Korea, the missile was domestically made and launched from the submarine. It then hit the target while President Moon Jae In and other high-ranking officials watched.
Moon Jae-in said that the country’s improved missile capabilities will “play a reliable deterrent against North Korea’s provocations”.
On Wednesday, North Korea fired two short-range missiles into space. Two days ago North Korea claimed it had launched its first weapon test after six months.
Experts believe that North Korea is building its weapon system in order to exert pressure on the United States and to get rid of sanctions that would force it to give up its nuclear arsenal. Since more than two decades, negotiations on this matter have been held hostage by the United States. Meanwhile, tensions on both the Korean Peninsula and the United States have been increasing.
Wen Sung-mok from the South Korean National Institute of Strategic Studies said, “North Korea is trying send a message that it doesn’t accept North Korea’s request.” According to him, North Korea may believe that it can now win concessions from US President Joe Biden. After withdrawing from chaos in Afghanistan, the country is involved in domestic debates.
At the same time, observers say that the Moon Jae-in government, which has been actively seeking reconciliation with North Korea, may have taken action to behave tougher in response to criticisms of North Korea’s weakness.
Technically, hostile countries have been at war since the Korean War in 1950-53. The Korean War gave North Korea and its allies China the opportunity to confront the South as well as the United Nations forces headed by the United States. It ended in an armistice, not a peace agreement.
Yoshihide, the Japanese Prime Minster, stated that these missile launches “threaten Japan’s peace and security and are extremely heinous.” The US Indo-Pacific Command stated that the move “highlights the destabilizing impact of (North Korea’s) illegal weapons program,” but said it did not pose a direct threat to the United States.
South Korea’s test may anger North Korea, which often accuses its opponents of hypocrisy in introducing modern weapons while calling for negotiations between the secession of the country.
According to South Korea’s military, the North Korean ballistic weapon flew for 800 kilometers (500 mi) before touching down in waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. These launches are in violation of the UN Security Council resolution which prohibits North Korea engaging in ballistic missile activity. The Security Council does not usually impose additional sanctions on North Korea when it launches short-range missiles. This was the case Wednesday.
Wednesday’s test was conducted as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Moon Jae-in and other senior officials in Seoul to discuss North Korea and other issues.