As the militarised rhetoric and aggressive posturing continues in the Korean peninsula, you’d be forgiven for feeling like nuclear war, or at the very least a potentially terrifying military conflict is not far away. North Korea and the United States of America, to put it mildly, seem entirely at odds with one another. Whatever little understanding there might have been between the two nations has evaporated.
Now there’s nothing left between the two diametrically-opposed powers but an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust – as well as downright provocation and bombast from both sides. That has left many other nations, including China and South Korea, increasing concerned about the very real possibility of military action unfolding.
Following a vast military parade in Pyongyang at the weekend, in which the North appeared to unveil newly designed long-range missiles (the operational readiness of which have been called into question by experts), North Korea launched a missile that exploded just seconds after it was launched. United States and South Korean military officials reported the launch – thought to be a test – and Mike Pence, upon arriving in South Korea described the act as a “provocation” from the North;
This morning’s provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face everyday in the defence of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defence of America in this part of the world.”
For its own part, North Korea has appeared reluctant to be cowed by pressure from the United States; Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol recently told the BBC that North Korea intended to continue the development of its ballistics program and warned that the country is prepared for “all our war” should the United States attempt to make good on its threat of military action.
In another apparent display of defiance against the United States, The Mirror reports that a video shown at the Day of Sun festival – a holiday in celebration of Kim Jong-Un’s grandfather – was intended to exhibit the considerable size and strength of North Korea’s military. The video appears to show a submarine launching a missile, which hits a US city, to the soundtrack of a patriotic song.
In a recent Twitter post, President Trump vowed to “deal” with North Korea, and expressed his hope that China could yet prove effective in tempering the military ambitions of the North.
The rhetoric emanating from Pyongyang is a cause of major concern for the United States – not to mention South Korea and China – North Korea described recent statements made by the White House as “military hysteria” and warned its counterparts in the West that it was prepared to take the “toughest” actions is the US does not de-escalate its military strategy in the region.
All of this comes as speculation increases that North Korea intends to conduct a sixth nuclear test, in open resistance to sanctions put in place against them from several countries and international bodies.
With concerns growing over the situation, United States officials will be hoping that China can help to reign in the North, but the effectiveness of both the Chinese and United States governments in doing so remains somewhat to be seen.
If you’re keen to know more about the potential of North Korea’s airstrikes, check out these images that show the hypothetical reach of the country’s missiles.