Kim Jong-un breaks the moratorium that allowed him to open talks with Washington, stalled since 2019, and improves his military capacity with a projectile capable of traveling 13,000 kilometers
He had been trying for months and, after last week’s failure, he has finally succeeded. As suspected, North Korea confirmed this Friday that the projectile fired yesterday is an intercontinental missile, which means breaking the moratorium that was imposed in 2017 to open peace talks with the United States, which were stalled after the failure of the last summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un in February 2019.
According to the North Korean state news agency, KCNA, the missile flew 1,090 kilometers for more than an hour (67.5 minutes) and reached a maximum height of 6,248 kilometers, so it went out into space and then re-entered the atmosphere. without disintegrating to “impact exactly in a predetermined area” of the Sea of Japan. With this projectile, called Hwasong-17, the communist regime in Pyongyang expands its offensive capacity because it can hit targets more than 13,000 kilometers away, in theory carrying a nuclear warhead. But some experts doubt that North Korea has enough technology to properly mount and fly a miniaturized warhead on a missile.
Regardless of whether he can do it or not, this test means a dangerous escalation in his arms race and, what is more serious, the definitive burial of the “thaw” with the US and South Korea. After the failure of the dialogue with Washington, Kim Jong-un had returned to provocations and this year he had already carried out eleven lower-range missile tests until he fired this intercontinental missile. Along with last week’s failed test, which was supposed to be of a long-range missile as well, five days ago he also fired four artillery rounds into the Yellow Sea.
Demonstrating the importance of the test, the launch was overseen by Kim Jong-un himself, who proudly celebrated its success. “We are fully prepared for a long confrontation with the US imperialists,” warned the young dictator, according to the KCNA. In his opinion, “the new strategic weapon of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will make the whole world fully aware of the power of our strategic forces once again.”
Few chances for dialogue
As seen in the photos distributed by the North Korean agency, the gigantic projectile was fired from a runway adjacent to Pyongyang airport by an eleven-axis mobile launcher. Said missile was already shown to the world in the night parade that took place on October 10, 2020, in the midst of a pandemic and without masks, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party. Despite the tremendous economic impact that the coronavirus has had on North Korea, which has further isolated itself by shutting down trade on its border with China, the regime has continued to devote its meager resources to its military program. In a rare admission of his mistakes, Kim Jong-un himself has admitted that the situation is so dire that there could be another “Hard March,” as propaganda calls the “Great Famine” of the mid-1990s. even that threat has stopped him from going ahead with his bravado. As the KCNA images show, he celebrated with his soldiers the success of the launch dressed in a black leather jacket and wearing sunglasses despite the fact that the day was grayer than his unfortunate country.
With this new essay, the few remaining possibilities of resuming dialogue with the White House definitively come to an end. The “thaw” began in 2017 thanks to the mediation of the then South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, whose party lost the elections on March 9 against the conservative Yoon Suk-yeol. In this transition of power, both the outgoing and the elected president have condemned Pyongyang’s test.
“I sternly warn North Korea that there is nothing it can gain by provocation. We will protect our freedom and peace by building stronger security,” Yoon made clear, according to the South Korean Yonhap agency. Faced with the “thaw” promoted by Moon, his successor advocates a tougher stance against Kim Jong-un, which will surely bring more military tension in a world already in turmoil with the war in Ukraine.
For its part, the US has also strongly condemned the North Korean trial. “This launch is a flagrant violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions and unnecessarily threatens to destabilize security in the region,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. According to Reuters, Washington has requested an urgent meeting of the Security Council for this Friday. But, if it is held, it will surely be unsuccessful again due to the right of veto of Russia and China, as has already been seen during the last month with the invasion of Ukraine ordered by Putin.
Five years later, North Korea returns to military provocations with more force and the fear now is that it will soon carry out a nuclear test.