North Korea with Missiles Is Not a Whipping Boy


North Korea's actions look more like a strategical deterrence than the aggressive course that its enemies try to attribute to Pyongyang, masking by the tittle-tattle about the North Korean threat their own military preparations.

Recent test by North Korea of a new ballistic missile with solid engine is in the spotlight of world's politicians, experts and the media.

The latest ballistic missile test is a significant breakthrough in the North Korean missile engineering: first, it is a missile with solid engine that reduces the time for its preparation for launch, and, second, North Koreans made their own version of the missile tractor, making the weapon mobile. The missile launcher becomes much less vulnerable. Some hysterical notes in statements by the US officials and their allies are due to the fact that the emergence of such weapons neutralizes the already developed plans for a preemptive strike to destroy the North Korean military and political infrastructure. By the way, Lee Cheol Woo, chairman of South Korea's National Assembly Intelligence Committee, did not conceal it.  

Of course, we cannot call the test of a new medium-range missile an event, which reduces regional tensions. However, this test should not be considered by itself, but in the framework of the overall geopolitical context, where North Korea's actions look more like a strategical deterrence than the aggressive course that its enemies try to attribute to Pyongyang, masking by the tittle-tattle about the North Korean threat their own military preparations.

It is reasonable to recall, that the South Korean military spending not only exceeds the North Korean military costs in dozens of times, but overlaps the whole current income of North Korea; that pre-emptive strike and offensive actions against North Korea are practiced in numerous South Korean and South Korean-US military exercises for several years. The nearest exercises will take place in February and March with participation of nuclear aircraft carriers, strategic bombers, stealth aircraft, Zumwalt stealth destroyer etc. In recent years in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula at least 20 large-scale military exercises are held annually, the largest of them comprise hundreds of thousands servicemen.

If North Korea does not have the primary aim to destroy its southern neighbor, South Korea debars North Korea the right to exist. North Korea is considered not as a state, but as the anti-government group, which seized a part of the territory.

In this context not only Pyongyang, but also Seoul should listen to the "voice of the international community". Russia, condemning the North Korea's missile launch, demonstrates equal attention to the dangerous actions of the other side and points out, that the only acceptable way to solve the nuclear and other issues of the Korean Peninsula is the continuation of political and diplomatic efforts in order to return North Korea to the negotiating table.

What regional implications will be caused by the new North Korean missile test? The argument that the missile launch is a manifestation of the regime aggressiveness is just a retelling of the anti-North Korean discourse. Let's not forget that if North Korea has the fourth-largest army of the world, and this issue becomes a matter of the strong anti-Pyongyang propaganda, South Korea ranks sixth and the gap between the number of combat units (a large part of the Korean People's Army are construction battalions) is not so great. Moreover, it should be remembered that according to the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1954 in case of a conflict on the Korean peninsula the United States has a duty to protect the Republic of Korea by all possible ways and means. In such situation the initiation of a conflict by the North Korean regime is a guaranteed suicide. Even if we proceed from a quite incorrect argument that the primary purpose of Kim Jong-un is the preservation of his personal power, it is easy to conclude that the aggravation of the situation with the risk of a large-scale war is far to be beneficial for Pyongyang. Moreover, even the first use of nuclear weapons does not solve any strategic problem, but opens a "Pandora's box", and any response against the abrogator of the nuclear taboo will be considered acceptable by the international community.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Related articles

The Pre-Olympic Thaw Comes As Good News, but What Next for the Two Koreas?
From a tactical point of view Kim Jong-un got a plus for his reputation, and for supporters of the idea of an unpredictable regime refusing to dialogue it could be more difficult to find arguments.

Expert Opinions
The Korean Peninsula Drama: Waiting for the Endgame in 2018
Are North Koreans and Americans ready for dialogue? As for Pyongyang, the answer is probably yes. Apparently, Kim Jong-un is interested in the negotiations, because he can now act from a position of

Artyom Lukin

Expert Opinions
2017 – The Year of Unexpected Successes for North Korea
The year 2017 was a time of unexpected successes for North Korea although it is not ruled out that some of them will bring quite a few problems for that country and its leadership.

Andrei Lankov

Expert Opinions