North Korea’s surprising shot over Japan is just the beginning of more serious actions, according to state media.
North Korea launched a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan early Tuesday morning, according to the Korean Central News Agency. The state-run media outlet warned that the launch was a “meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” which North Korea perceives as a forward base for a possible allied invasion.
The North Korean military presented a plan to dictator Kim Jong Un in mid-August to launch four IRBMs into waters around Guam earlier this month. Kim approved but decided to delay the launch, expressing a desire to “watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees.”
“In order to defuse the tensions and prevent the dangerous military conflict on the Korean peninsula, it is necessary for the U.S. to make a proper option first and show it through action,” the North said at the time, offering the U.S. the opportunity to defuse the situation.
North Korea is dissatisfied with America’s answer.
“The U.S. answered the DPRK’s warning which it will closely watch the U.S. behavior with the bellicose war exercises for aggression,” KCNA reported, referring to the ongoing Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises, annual joint military exercises involving South Korean and American forces.
The North “should show action, not talk, to the U.S. imprudently denying the DPRK’s initiative measure for easing the extreme tension,” state media explained.
North Korea is still determined to offer the U.S. a way out though. “The DPRK will continue to watch the U.S. demeanor as already declared and decide its future action according to them,” KCNA said, citing Kim Jong Un.
It is unclear if North Korea is bluffing or revealing its legitimate strategic intentions, but it is worth noting that Pyongyang has been increasingly turning rhetoric into reality through advances in its ballistic and nuclear weapons programs. Many observers suspected that North Korea’s claims that it can field a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile capable of threatening the continental U.S. were bluster, but the country now has this kind of weaponry.
While it is essential to recognize propaganda, it is also important to remember that North Korea has revealed critical information on numerous occasions in its past state media reports.
Regardless, the North is signaling that it will be firing more missiles into the Pacific. “It is necessary to positively push forward the work for putting the strategic force on a modern basis by conducting more ballistic rocket launching drills with the Pacific as a target in the future,” KCNA reported.
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