Pacific News Minute: North Korean Missile Tests Present Political and Military Problems

Sep 7, 2016

Korean People's Army vehicles on parade.
Credit Wikipedia Commons

On Monday, as leaders of the G20 gathered in China- North Korea launched three missiles into Japanese waters.  The UN Security Council promptly issued a unanimous condemnation, but as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute- the launch presents difficult political and military problems.

The timing, certainly no coincidence...amounts to a slap at China.  Jeffery Lewis, director of the East Asia Non-proliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies told the Guardian, "They just don't care what the Chinese say anymore."

Which may help explain the surprisingly quick condemnation by the Security Council.  The new resolution promises "further significant measures" for North Korea's defiance, but at the ASEAN Summit that followed the G20, President Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye stressed rigorous implementation of the last set of sanctions, issued last March, and said they would both talk with China about closing loopholes.

North Korea fired three intermediate range missiles called Nodongs...improved versions of the old Soviet Scud...with, according to an Israeli expert, new and improved warheads.  Tal Inbar of the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, told Israel Defense that photographs showed warheads identical to those used by Iran atop its version of the same missile, the Shahab-3.  North Korea and Iran co-operate closely on missile development. Also, two of the missiles were fired simultaneously, which analysts said suggests plans to overwhelm US and South Korean missile defense systems...Jeffrey Lewis told AFP,"I think they are serious about putting together a force capable of delivering nuclear weapons in a conflict with the US."