Korea launches ‘ballistic missiles’
Context: North Korea fired two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea in its first substantive provocation to the new U.S. administration of Joe Biden.
- They travelled 450 km and reached a maximum altitude of 60 km. An emergency meeting South Korea’s National Security Council expressed “deep concern” at the launch.
- North Korea is banned from developing any ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions and is under multiple international sanctions over its weapons programmes.
- Pyongyang has made rapid progress in its capabilities under Mr. Kim, testing missiles capable of reaching the entire continental United States as tensions mounted in 2017.
- Trump and Mr. Kim then embarked on an extraordinary diplomatic bromance, holding two headline-grabbing summits in Singapore and Vietnam.
- The U.S. pulled back on some joint military exercises with South Korea while the North froze intercontinental ballistic missile tests.
- However, the February 2019 Hanoi summit broke up over sanctions relief and what North Korea would be willing to give up in return.
What does North Korea want?
- the United States to lift sanctions while letting it maintain its nuclear capability.
- Because the Biden administration is unlikely to do that anytime soon, some experts say North Korea may stage bigger provocations, like a long-range missile test or a nuclear detonation.
- Experts say it’s highly unlikely for the Biden administration to back down and make concessions in the face of North Korea’s short-range missile launches.
- Biden, who has called Kim “a thug,” also isn’t likely to sit down for one-on-one talks with Kim unless he gets a pledge that North Korea will denuclearize — and officials confirm the country is sincere.
- Amid the standoff, North Korea could end up launching bigger weapons tests, especially if it isn’t satisfied with the Biden administration’s North Korea policy review that is expected to be published soon, experts say.