04 December 2019
A fair case can be made that North Korea’s launch of two short-ranged missiles on November 28 – its 13th missile test since May — was a political attempt to signal displeasure with the crushing economic sanctions that have been placed on Pyongyang by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) since 2016. As North Korea’s mercurial leader, Kim Jong Un, has publicly given the United States until the end of 2019 to introduce new and substantial concessions involving sanctions relief in return for denuclearization steps on Pyongyang’s part, the destabilizing missile tests serve as political signaling to remind Washington to take this ultimatum seriously.
But inasmuch as Kim’s political motivations are relevant, the military and economic implications of the recent short ranged missile tests also deserve attention, for they highlight the North’s constraints and indicate further antagonism.
… Lastly, while Trump holds the key to the denuclearization deadlock with Kim, the unpredictability of both parties and the need to plan for the worst-case scenario while safeguarding South Korean national security leads to a single policy recommendation for Seoul: the concurrent maintenance of cautious diplomacy along with a beefing up of anti-missile and anti-rocket air defense capabilities.
… Liang Tuang Nah, Ph.D., is a Research Fellow of the Military Studies Programme at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies, a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 05/12/2019