After a haughty show of force in a massive military parade, North Korea’s nuclear threat at least temporarily fizzled after a missile failure on Sunday local time, according to NBC News. The launch attempt occurred the day after Kim Jong-un held a military parade in Pyongyang showing off weapons, including new long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) systems. The trumped-up missile launch failed “almost immediately,” reports South Korean and U.S. military officials.
The Pyongyang parade, part of a birthday celebration for the late founder of North Korea Kim Il-Sung, boasted 56 missiles of 10 different models, according to the Telegraph. As tensions grow, Google searches for the term “World War 3” rose to a record high, according to Russia Today, as Americans and others around the world braced themselves for conflict following the arrival of a U.S. carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson to the Korean peninsula. In response, North Korea stated that it would “repel any military action.” Fortunately, this dramatic buildup did not have the devastating result that most expected.
According to Fox News, the failed missile was not even an ICBM, a missile with the ability to reach the continental United States, but rather a medium-range missile. NBC News reports the attempted launch occurred from the North Korean city of Sinpo, which is just 400 miles away from Japan. Sinpo is a submarine port, according to Shin In-kyun, the president of the Korea Defense Network, who inferred that the missile was likely a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
Shin claimed that such missiles can evade the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system that the U.S. gave to South Korea, claiming further that “If North Korea [can] complete building 3,000-ton submarine, they can then attack Guam, Hawaii, and even Alaska with an SLBM.”
However, Sky News reports that the missile was launched from land, according to U.S. officials.
This embarrassment is only the latest in a string of missile mishaps for the hermit kingdom. According to the Telegraph, North Korea faced two recent unsuccessful launches, one on March 22 and the other on April 5. According to BBC News, North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and several missile launches in defiance of United Nations resolutions.
The failed launch occurred shortly before Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Seoul, South Korea, according to Fox News. Pence attended an Easter church service and placed a wreath at Seoul National Cemetery before making comments on the attack.
“This morning’s provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world. Your willingness to step forward, to serve, to stand firm without fear, inspires the nation and inspires the world.”
In contrast to his usual tone on Twitter, President Trump’s response to the launch was muted. In a Saturday night statement, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the following.
“The president and his military team are aware of North Korea’s most recent unsuccessful missile launch. The president has no further comment.”
I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., with its allies, will! U.S.A.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2017
While the world breathes a sigh of relief at North Korea’s failure, many are wondering if this “mistake” was actually the result of U.S. cyber interference, reports the Telegraph. North Korea has experienced a significant increase in launch failures since 2014, when President Barack Obama ordered increased efforts to employ cyber warfare to counter North Korea’s missile development. Some experts claim that the United States may be using electromagnetic propagation to effect “left-of-launch” attacks on the missiles, possibly using infected electronics attached to the missile that scramble its control or targeting systems. According to Fox News, Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland declined to verify this account. However, her comment on cyber warfare may have been an affirmative hint. In a Fox News Sunday interview, McFarland opined the following.
“With any country, major country, we are entering a cyber platform, a cyber battlefield. That is where a lot of the wars of the future are going to be fought.”
The Inquisitr reports that North Korea’s ultimate goal is to miniaturize and fit a nuclear warhead to a long-range missile and that this test may have been a preliminary step. North Korea claims that they have already created small nuclear warheads that can be used for this purpose.
According to BBC News, U.S. forces plan to work with China to respond to North Korea’s missile launch attempt. During President Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Xi stated that China would offer cooperation in U.S. efforts to take on the North Korean threat. After the failed missile launch, National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster further affirmed China’s support.
“I think there’s an international consensus now, including the Chinese and the Chinese leadership, that this is a situation that just can’t continue.”
Our military is building and is rapidly becoming stronger than ever before. Frankly, we have no choice!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2017
As strategists on all sides make plans and recalculate in light of this event, it remains to be seen what the effects of North Korea’s failed missile launch will be on the region and on the world.
[Featured Image by KRT/AP Images]