north korea ballistic once more the statesman - North Korea ballistic once more: The Statesman

NEW DELHI (THE STATESMAN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – With the United States of America and its allies riveted to the clash of shields in Ukraine and South Korea at another remove determined to boost its rocket programme, North Korea launched a ballistic missile into the choppy waters of the South China Sea on Sunday (Feb 27).

In point of fact, this signifies that the launch – the eighth of its kind this year – is intended to hone weapons technology and exert pressure on the United States into offering concessions like relief from sanctions against the disconcerting backdrop of disarmament talks, now stalled.

Arguably, Pyongyang might also consider the US obsession with the Ukraine conflict as an opportunity to accelerate its testing activity without any critical response from Washington. There is little doubt that the North has displayed its prowess at a critical juncture of geopolitics.

The missile flew about 300 km at a maximum altitude of 600 km before landing on North Korea’s eastern coast and outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. It has caused no damage to vessels or aircraft. Nonetheless, it has caused a flutter in the geopolitical roost.

This becomes clear from the Japanese defence minister, Nobuo Kishi’s statement – “If North Korea deliberately carried out the missile launch while the international community is distracted by the “Russian invasion of Ukraine, such an act is absolutely unforgivable. We cannot overlook considerable missile and nuclear advancement.”

South Korean officials, at an emergency National Security Council meeting, said the timing of the launch – during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – is “not desirable at all for peace and stability in the world and on the Korean Peninsula,” to quote the presidential Blue House. The US Indo-Pacific Command has condemned the launch and called upon North Korea to “refrain from further destabilising acts”.

A State Department readout stated that the US commitment to the defence of South Korea and Japan “remains ironclad” though Sunday’s launch did not pose an immediate threat to US territory and that of its allies.

The launch came a day after North Korea conveyed its first response to the Ukraine war in the form of an article by a government analyst that expressed support for Russia and condemned the United States.

“The basic cause of the Ukraine incident lies in the high-handedness and arbitrariness of the United States, which has ignored Russia’s legitimate calls for security guarantees and has only sought a global hegemony and military dominance while clinging to its sanctions campaigns”.

In the reckoning of the University of Seoul, the Biden administration needs to show that it maintains a strategic focus on the Indo-Pacific region, including a stern response to Pyongyang’s provocations. In point of fact, the Kim Jong-un regime’s strength and legitimacy have become tied to testing ever-better missiles. America’s many adversaries are flexing their muscles.

  • The Statesman is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media entities.