Not directly related to the war in Ukraine, the ballistic missile fired Thursday, March 24, by North Korea is nonetheless a collateral effect. While President Joe Biden was going to meet US allies in Brussels the same day, this shot is clearly a challenge from Pyongyang. He is considered by the White House to be “an insolent violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and unnecessarily heightens tensions”.
Since the beginning of the year, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has fired a dozen missiles, more than in all of 2021. The one on March 24 could be a Hwasong-17, nicknamed “monster missile” by military analysts, whose range can reach 15,000 kilometers.
Russia and North Korea now share the same fate as international pariahs sanctioned by the United States and its allies. The DPRK is one of five countries (along with Russia, Belarus, Eritrea and Syria) to have voted against the UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine. She can therefore hope that Russia will no longer feel bound by UN resolutions and that she will veto any Security Council resolution calling for new sanctions following provocations on her part. This gives him more leeway.
Even without that assurance, Pyongyang was determined to continue building its deterrent force, despite calls from Washington and Seoul for talks to resume. North Korean leaders believe that dialogue is pointless until the United States gives up its “unfriendly attitude (i.e. to sanctions). In January, Kim Jong-un told his people that he had to “to prepare for a long-term confrontation with the American imperialists”.
Renewed tensions triggered
The March 9 election as president of South Korea of right-wing candidate Yoon Seok-youl, who was quick to declare that the DPRK was the “main enemy” of his country, clearly marked a break with the policy of appeasement of his predecessor Moon Jae-in. Any attempt at weighting on the part of Seoul being now ruled out, renewed tension in the peninsula seems to have begun.
Several factors are involved in the new rise to the niche of North Korea. First of all, the year 2022 is heavy with symbols: it marks the ten years in power of the leader Jong-un and the 110and anniversary, April 15, of the birth of “father of the nation”Kim Il-sung (1912-1994).
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