North Korea launched missiles after a US-South Korea military drill
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula situation escalated to fresh heights when North Korea reportedly launched multiple missiles after a US-South Korea military drill kicked off, with Chinese leaders and academics have called for restraint, communication, and peaceful ways to resolve the problem. According to reports, North Korea launched up to 23 short-range missiles in a single day as of publication. For the first time since 1945, one of the short-range ballistic missiles touched down not far from South Korean waters. While another Pyongyang missile landed fewer than 30 km south of the North Limit Line (NLL), a contentious maritime border between the two Koreas, a missile fired from Pyongyang landed 57 kilometres off the South Korean city of Sokcho. Increased military deterrence against North Korea, according to past history, only leads to Pyongyang responding more harshly, raising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and may even encourage Pyongyang to accelerate the development of nuclear weapons.
The North has carried out a record number of missile tests this year as tensions have risen. Between 2006 and 2017, Pyongyang carried out six nuclear tests, and despite harsh sanctions, there are rumours that Pyongyang may be considering a seventh. It has continued to build up its military might in contravention of decisions made by the UN Security Council, endangering its neighbours and perhaps placing the US mainland in range of attack. Last month, exercises involving ballistic missiles fitted with dummy nuclear warheads were directed by the nation's Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, who said they were intended to serve as a war deterrent. North Korea also established itself as an irreversible nuclear state in September by passing a new legislation that permits pre-emptive nuclear strikes for self-defense.
So, what is Kim Jong-un up to? Typically, North Korea launches missiles for three purposes: to improve and test its arsenal, to send a message to the world (mostly the US), and to shock its own people and keep them loyal to the leadership. It can be difficult to tell which of these objectives Pyongyang is trying to accomplish, but Mr. Kim has been explicit this time. The most recent launches and exercises, according to numerous sources in the state media, are in retaliation for military manoeuvres being conducted by the US, South Korea, and Japan. The North believes that by firing missiles, it is telling its adversaries loud and clear to deescalate the situation. There is a less obvious explanation, though, for why he would be exerting extra pressure right now. Some suspect Kim might be setting up a more provocative test, such as the first nuclear weapon explosion in five years or even a minor assault on South Korea.
As a result of North Korea's increasing number of ballistic missile launches, China and Russia have come under fire from the United States and its allies for purportedly impeding UN Security Council action against it. The 15 members of the Security Council failed to agree on a joint statement condemning the recent barrage of ballistic missiles from North Korea. Instead, a number of nations, including the US, the UK, and France, separately denounced Pyongyang's continuous missile testing. India on Saturday told the United Nations that it supports denuclearisation in the Korean peninsula, asserting that it was in the “collective interest”.
The US intends to increase deterrence by stationing more nuclear-capable bombers near the Korean peninsula as North Korea ramps up its missile launches and gets ready for a potential nuclear test. The recent tit-for-tat missile attacks take place when tensions between the two Koreas are at an all-time high. Last month, both sides fired warning shots and artillery shells at one another and claimed the other had crossed their maritime border. The situation on the Korean peninsula is currently the most unstable in the previous five years, despite the fact that there have been times of tension with North Korea in the past. It also seems as though things will continue to become worse.