North Korea has launched a test missile that has flown higher and longer than any previously recorded attempt. Many defence experts have concluded that this test demonstrates the ability for the rouge nation to strike more targets at greater distances.
The projectile spent roughly 53 minutes in flight and reached an altitude of 4500 kilometres before landing in waters 210 kilometres west of a Japanese prefecture.
The response from American officials has been a mix of awe and concern. While acknowledging the increased performance of the North Korean missile they have condemned Pyongyang for its continued aggressive arms testing and encouraged more international pressure for disarmament.
These responses from the United States, including those of President Donald Trump have shown more restraint than seen in previous statements. This could be interpreted as an attempt to deescalate tensions between the two countries that have been growing steadily over the last couple of years.
North Korea has made official statements repeating their position on their relationship with the United States. They acknowledge that negotiation is on the table but are unwilling to begin talks until they have fully demonstrated their nuclear capability.
These comments leave little room for doubt that North Korea wants to begin any negotiations on what it perceives and an equal strategic footing with the United States. The performance of this new missile tests suggests that progress towards that end is being made.
U.S military action has been actively discouraged due to the ability of North Korea to retaliate, especially against South Korea. Many South Korean communities and U.S garrisons are in the effective range of conventional North Korean ordinance.
Many in the international community are fearful that an increase in hostility could induce nuclear war which would have far reaching consequences outside of the belligerent nations. The threat of nuclear attack, while still considered unlikely, has not been this prevalent since the end of the cold war.
Over the course of many U.S administrations there have been several approaches used to try and limit North Koreas’ ability to use nuclear weapons. These attempts have included economic incentives to participate in an international capacity to total economic sanctions. None of these methods have managed to stop North Korea from pursuing its nuclear agenda.
The success of this most recent missile test escalates an already tense issue that the international community is watching very closely.