We must keep a wary eye on N. Korea’s missile tests
ABOUT a year ago, in February, 2016, North Korea launched a ballistic missile that flew south by eastern South Korea, over Japan’s Okinawa, and landed in the Pacific Ocean near Batanes in the Philippines. It was supposed to be a test of a rocket to put a satellite in orbit. But the United Nations saw it as a test of ballistic missile technology, which is banned under UN Security Council resolutions.
Last Sunday, North Korea fired a ballistic missile , described as one of medium range. This one flew east about 500 miles into the sea between Korea and Japan. The test was done while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting with United States President Donald Trump in Washington, DC.
The missile test was seen as a message to Japan and the US who are now drawing closer together in the wake of Trump’s election and his call on Japan to take on more of the responsibility for maintaining security in this part of the world. In a joint press conference after the missile launch, Abe called the missile test “absolutely intolerable” while Trump declared that the US stands behind Japan “one hundred percent.”
In his New Year’s Day address, North Korea leader Kim Jong-un announced that the country had reached the final stages of readiness for an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) which could reach the US mainland. The country’s staterun media said North Korea will continue both its nuclear and missile development programs until the US abandons its “hostile policy.”
North Korea’s tests are part of an ongoing confrontation among nations vying for dominance in East Asia, with the US, Japan, and South Korea presenting a common front, with China also determined to assert itself, and with North Korea seen as a largely unknown factor with its own ambitions. Its steady development of long-range missiles along with nuclear warheads presents a threat to the US.
As for the Philippines, the fact that one North Korean missile landed near Batanes last year shows that we could very easily get involved in any conflict, and that, therefore, we should keep a wary eye on North Korea’s continuing tests.