On Sunday, North Korea launched four banned ballistic missiles that landed in the East Sea and landed 200 nautical miles from Japan’s coastline.
North Korea said their missile launches were training for a strike on U.S. bases in Japan on Tuesday.
From Yahoo News:
Kim Jong-Un gave the order for the drill to start, the North’s official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
“Feasting his eyes on the trails of ballistic rockets”, he praised the Hwasong artillery unit that carried it out, it said.
“The four ballistic rockets launched simultaneously are so accurate that they look like acrobatic flying corps in formation, he said,” the agency added, referring to Kim.
The military units involved are “tasked to strike the bases of the US imperialist aggressor forces in Japan in contingency”, KCNA said.
The Korean version of the KCNA report said the North’s missile launch demonstrated its readiness to “wipe out” enemy forces with a “merciless nuclear strike”.
A series of photographs published by the North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed Kim watching the missiles rise into the air and another of him smiling gleefully, clapping with other officials.
President Donald J. Trump spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Acting President Hwang Kyo-Ahn of South Korea via telephone following the missile launch. The allies confirmed that the launches violated U.N. Security Council resolutions and presented a “clear challenge to the region and international community,” Abe told reporters in Tokyo.
The leaders agreed that “the threat has entered a new stage,” Abe said.
Abe said that “President Trump said the United States is 100 percent with Japan and he told me to convey his remarks to the Japanese people.” The POTUS is said to have reaffirmed Washington’s “ironclad commitment” to Japan and South Korea.
The White House issued a statement that said that there would be “very dire consequences” for North Korea’s “provocative and threatening actions.”
“It should be very clear to the DPRK that it is a pariah, it is an outlier, it is in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions, and that the countries represented in this room are not going to stand by and just let the DPRK violate international law,” said U.S. Disarmament Ambassador Robert Wood.
Since the missile launch, more than 20 countries, including North Korea’s main ally China, as well as Britain, France, and Russia, have condemned North Korea’s provocations.
Intelligence officials believe that North Korea could be less than two years away from developing a nuclear warhead that could reach the continental United States.
In January, President Trump commented on Pyongyang’s chances of having an intercontinental ballistic nuclear weapon and declared that “it won’t happen!”
As a show of solidarity and commitment to South Korea, the United States delivered a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, which is scheduled for deployment on South Korean soil this year.
However, the THAAD deployment has infuriated China.
On Tuesday, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing remained “firmly opposed” to THAAD and will “resolutely take necessary measures to defend our own security interests.”
This is important because China is North Korea’s key diplomatic ally and really the only country that may hold some power over Kim Jong Un.
South Korea also claims that they fired the missiles in retaliation to joint military exercises conducted by the U.S. and South Korea. The annual exercises, called Foal Eagle drills (You can see last year’s exercises here), are going on in South Korea right now until April.
North Korean diplomat Ju Yong Choi said the annual exercises were “a major cause of escalation of tension that might turn into actual war.” Choi also said the joint exercises were aimed at conducting a “pre-emptive nuclear attack” against North Korea.
“The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is firm in its determination to further bolster its defense capabilities with a nuclear deterrent as a pivot so as to put an end to danger of nuclear war caused by the United States,” Choi said.
If that wasn’t enough volatility in the region, Pyongyang has banned all Malaysians from leaving North Korea. This stems from the assassination of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, by two women using VX nerve agent at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport last month. The murder is thought to be a carried out by North Korean operatives in an effort to prevent Nam being a possible replacement for Kim Jong Un if he was ousted from power.
Malaysia also banned North Koreans from leaving their nation. The countries have already expelled the other nation’s ambassador.
Stay tuned because this situation appears that it will only get worse before it gets better.