North Korea has yet again fired off another ballistic missile in direct violation of United Nations resolutions forbidding the rogue regime from engaging in such aggressive military activities. The missile landed in the Sea of Japan, according to U.S. officials, but its close proximity to Russian territory — 60 miles (97 kilometers) from Russia’s naval port of Vladivostok, home to its Pacific Fleet — that is of most concern.
As the Daily Mail reported earlier this week, North Korea, in the midst of saying it is considering talks with the United States about the two countries’ tense relationship, fired a ballistic missile from Kusong to about 500 miles (805 kilometers) out into the Sea of Japan. The missile test comes just after weeks of North Korea’s engaging in other ballistic missile tests (four in all) and threatening the United States and its allies in the region with nuclear war, even preemptive nuclear strikes. The missile launch also sends a mixed message in that it has been reported that DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) spokesman Choe Son Hui stated that North Korea would be willing to talk with the Trump administration under the “right conditions,” although what the conditions to be met might be are still unknown.
President Donald Trump opened up the opportunity for possible dialogue between North Korea and the United States earlier this month when he said he would be “honored” to meet DPRK leader Kim Jong-Un. The suggestion of a meeting was a strong departure from three months of confrontational posturing by administration officials that publicly declared that the United States would be attempting a “new approach” with regard to North Korea and its nuclear weapons program.
But there was no mention of peace talks in the White House’s condemnation of North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test.
“With the missile impacting so close to Russian soil – in fact, closer to Russia than to Japan – the President cannot imagine that Russia is pleased,” the White House statement read. “North Korea has been a flagrant menace for far too long. South Korea and Japan have been watching this situation closely with us. The United States maintains our ironclad commitment to stand with our allies in the face of the serious threat posed by North Korea. Let this latest provocation serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea.”
Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin was in Beijing on a two-day trip to China when the missile test occurred.
Still, Moscow’s response was far more dismissive than Washington’s.
RT reported that Russia’s ballistic missile launch early warning system (SPRN) had tracked the North Korean missile throughout its flight. “The missile launch didn’t pose any threat to the Russian Federation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, pointing out that the missile had landed 500 kilometers (311 miles) from Russian territory. “Russian early warning radar and air defense forces are on regular duty now.”
There has been a growing fear within the past few months that rising tensions in the region could be exploited, even exacerbated by North Korea. With the rogue nation’s aggressive ballistic missile testing and threats of continuing its nuclear weapons testing (also a clear violation of United Nations mandates), not to mention its bellicose threats of nuclear war against the U.S. and its allies and those nations’ reciprocal threats (including the U.S. threatening a preemptive military strike), relations have been strained. But then there was the hint that there might be some room for peaceful negotiations between all parties concerned (which included China, North Korea’s only political and economic ally).
It has taken only days and another ballistic missile test to send relations back to a more confrontational footing, leaving the world trying to decipher just what kind of message North Korea is trying to send.
[Featured Image by Keith Tarrier/Shutterstock]