International leaders react and speak of the global threat
North Korea claims to have successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile with the potential to reach the United States’ mainland. The launching was made on November 29th at 3 a.m., local time, by orders of the supreme leader Kim Jong Un from the city of Pyongyang.
This new armament called Hwasong-15 has reached the highest altitude ever recorded by a North Korean missile. After 53 minutes in the air, the projectile landed near the coasts of Japan. According to experts, the missile could reach a distance of 13,000 km which means it could reach any big city within the continental US.
The response of the White House did not take long. President Donald Trump affirmed, “we will take care of it (…) It is a situation that we will handle”. US Defense Secretary James Mattis said that the North Korean military movement “endangers world peace, regional peace and certainly the United States”. Mattis also stated that this new missile could be a threat to everywhere in the world.
Secretary Mattis mentioned that the South Korean government has responded by launching several missiles into the water in an attempt to “make sure North Korea understands that they could be taken under fire by our ally.” Likewise, the South Korean president Moon Jae-in described the actions as reckless and called for preventing the situation of the Asian peninsula from spiraling out of control and escalating into a major conflict.
Other US authorities made declarations short after the event. Coronel Robert Manning stated that “the United States is commitment to the defense of its allies, including South Korea and Japan, in the face of these threats, remains ironclad”, Manning also stated that the country is ready to defend itself from any attack.
Japan’s Prime minister Shinzo Abe condemned the attack and describe it as a "violent act [that] cannot be tolerated (…) We will never give in to any act of provocation, we will reinforce our pressure”. Moreover, the Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera expressed his nation’s concern about the provocative attacks and specially about the possibility that “the new North Korean missile is capable of carrying not only nuclear weapons, but also biological and chemical”.
Meetings between the US, Japan, and South Korea presidents were agreed in order to discuss the situations. A meeting with the UN Security Council was arranged as well, in order to look for more international sanctions to Kim Jong Un regime, which could include restrictions in the maritime traffic from and towards the socialist country.
The last diplomatic incident took place last September after North Korea make an intercontinental missile fly over Japan’s territory. That situation generated tension between the Asian country and the US. In that occasion, President Trump said that the US has “great strength and patience, but if we are forced to defend or our allies, we will have no choice but to completely destroy North Korea”. This military demonstration was said to be Kim Jong Un response to the sanctions imposed by Un to the exports and imports the socialist government, after the nuclear trial of a hydrogen bomb the 3rd of September.
The two-month time that passed between the military demonstrations made the international community believe that the sanctions imposed to the socialist regime have had the expected effect.
This means that any diplomatic action must take into account China’s position in the matter. Xi Jinping’s government has rejected the aggression and expressed its concern in this and in past occasions, the foreign affairs minister Geng Shuang has insisted in a diplomatic solution. “China expects all parties to act prudently to maintain regional peace and stability”, Shuang affirmed.
It is important to point out that China has maneuverability regarding economic sanctions because this country has been a strategic economic and political allay to North Korea, as well as its biggest oil supplier. Besides, 83% of North Korea exports go to China and 85% of imports come from China, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity.
Tension between the American and Asian powers can be traced back to the Korean war which ended with the division of the peninsula. However, the tension increased with the nuclear arms race in which each country seeks to demonstrate its military power. Even though, the tension has existed for several years, the accusations and verbal attacks have become more serious and convincing after the election of the President Trump.
Latin American Post | Diana Cárdenas
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto