Tuesday morning literally started with a bang. A North Korean mid-range ballistic missile, a weapon born of nuclear payload motives, flew over Japan and crashed into the Pacific Ocean 575 miles east of Japan. This daringly unprecedented provocation sparked chaos in Japan’s northern Hokkaido island where the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe alerted residents to take cover. The launch is by far the most pressing security crisis as South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. strap-up for a confrontation with the erratic country.
Here is the run-down:
- North Korea launches another missile (18th of the year)
- U.S.-South Korean war preparations proceed, with Australia’s support and participation, which North Korea deems a “suicidal act”
- The last North Korean missile to fly over Japan was in 2009, before Kim Jong-Un’s rise to power
- Speculation that the missile was North Korea’s retaliation towards ongoing U.S.-South Korean military drills, the ‘Ulchi Freedom Guardian,’ involving 25,000 U.S. troops and 50,000 South Koreans
- Trump warns Pyongyang that the U.S. is not willing to back-down and North Korea would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the U.S. by attacking Guam
“North Korea’s reckless action is an unprecedented, serious and grave threat to our nation,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said.
On the other end, U.S. President Donald Trump responded in a rogue manner, warning that “all options are on the table” after the “threatening and destabilising actions.”
The launch has, as North Korea intended, sparked commentary and outrage from around the world as China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the situation is “approaching a crisis.” Australia’s own Foreign Minister, Julia Bishop, also echoed the international outcry by standing ready to support Japan “at any time” to condemn the “illegal, provocative and threatening” behaviour of North Korea.
Meanwhile, in response, South Korean jets have already acted to drop eight multi-purpose bombs at a shooting range near the inter-Korean border. Japanese jets have joined exercises with two supersonic U.S. B-1B bombers over the Korean peninsula, heightening tensions.
Such threats come days after Trump and North Korea’s heated rhetoric in the wake of what one can only imagine as a disruption of world peace. Now, the world watches as the two unpredictable leaders launch, not only intercontinental ballistic missiles, but emotionally charged threats detached from sensibility and more importantly, world peace.
North Korean KCNA news agency remarks; “the US imperialists and the South Korean puppet forces do not hide their bellicose nature, claiming that the exercises are to ‘counter’ the DPRK’s ballistic rocket launches and nuclear weapons development.”
The international community hopes China would liaise with their North Korean counterparts in freezing their nuclear program and limiting the progression of missile launches. China’s role as a coercive gatekeeper derives from the international pressures for China to participate in the toughest sanctions ever placed on the North Korean regime. It has agreed to uphold UN Security Council sanctions, such as banning the export of North Korean coal and seafood, which is anticipated to spark severe economic consequences on the impoverished North Korea. Such sanctions are justified in hopes that North Korean will think twice before they threaten the safety of the international community, without the threat of military action.
With that said, each new launch represents another launch towards nuclear war, involving not only the protagonist countries, but the world as collateral damage. On the other hand, South Korean, U.S. and Japanese policy-makers are prompted to resist the temptation of their classical stance of retaliation.
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