Early Sunday morning, North Korea fired a missile in the latest test of its ordnance delivery system, with the missile splashing down in the Sea of Japan. In a news conference with Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, Donald Trump backed the U.S. ally “100 percent.”
North Korea’s missile launch occurred shortly after President Donald Trump and Abe held a press conference, reiterating their united stance. Trump has been hosting Abe at one of his golf resorts in Florida this weekend. In a hastily held press conference, the two leaders denounced North Korea’s action. Abe referred to it as “absolutely intolerable” according to the New York Post. Donald Trump followed up the comment, declaring “I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent,” the report continues.
North Korea’s regime has been unusually astute over the last few months. Despite a continuous saber rattling, which North Korea has long been known for, the country’s government appears to be exercising some strategic caution with its weapons program testing. Sunday’s missile launch is the first to occur since October. It may be the regime was attempting to fly under the radar during the American presidential election so as not to become a major talking point of the presidential candidates.
Additionally, civil and political unrest due to the corruption of the South Korean government has resulted in that country’s president being impeached. The government party expected to take over is much more progressive in nature, and experts expect the new government will be seeking a more positive relationship with North Korea.
Of course, this latest successful missile launch has raised concerns over Kim Jong Un’s weapons capabilities. One of Kim’s declared goals for the program is the ability to fire a nuclear missile that can reach the United States. Military observers are still working on determining the nature of the missile fired. Some believe it was a test of one of the medium range missiles North Korea has been trying to perfect over the last couple of years, the Musudan class. Others believe it may have been a short range Rodong missile.
More concerning, though, is the potential that it might not have been a regular missile at all. It might have been part of a multi-stage rocket designed to give North Korea ICBM capabilities. If this test was indeed the first stage of a long-range missile, the implications for national security in Asia and America are profound.
Trump has previously expressed strong sentiments regarding North Korea’s weapons program.
North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2017
On the other hand, little action has been taken by the Trump administration since coming to power in dealing with the potential North Korean threat. The US government has been surprisingly unforthcoming regarding what actions it intends to take.
According to the Washington Post, “apart from repeating the usual pledges to work to stop North Korea from reaching its nuclear goals, the Trump administration has said little about what it would do to stop Kim. The administration is understood to be embarking on a view of North Korea after eight years in which the Obama administration practiced ‘strategic patience’ — hoping that it could wait out North Korea.”
So what are your thoughts on the latest test firing of a North Korean ballistic missile? Is North Korea a legitimate threat to Asia and America? What should the US and its allies be doing in response? Tell us what you think in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]