Could N Korea rain missiles on Suga and Biden’s parade?

15-Apr-2021 Intellasia | JapanTimes | 5:02 AM Print This Post

Will North Korea rain missiles on prime minister Yoshihide Suga and President Joe Biden’s parade in Washington this week?

One wildcard that could potentially prevent a smooth summit between the two leaders is a missile test or unveiling of a new weapon by the North as it marks a key anniversary and seeks to force itself back to the top of a meeting agenda widely expected to be dominated by China.

Although the North conducted its first ballistic missile launch in nearly a year late last month, the coming days could provide leader Kim Jong Un with a fresh opportunity to return to the headlines as the country marks the birth anniversary of his grandfather and the country’s late founder, Kim Il Sung, on Thursday.

Pyongyang has been known to launch missiles around key anniversaries and diplomatic events, including during the first summit between prime minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump in February 2017.

Aside from a launch, though, the North has other options for provocation.

One could be a new ballistic missile submarine, which South Korean and US intelligence authorities believe Kim’s regime is set to roll out, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported Sunday, citing unidentified sources. The North Korean leader, the sources said, may merely be biding his time before unveiling the 3,000-tonne sub.

Will North Korea rain missiles on prime minister Yoshihide Suga and President Joe Biden’s parade in Washington this week?

One wildcard that could potentially prevent a smooth summit between the two leaders is a missile test or unveiling of a new weapon by the North as it marks a key anniversary and seeks to force itself back to the top of a meeting agenda widely expected to be dominated by China.

Although the North conducted its first ballistic missile launch in nearly a year late last month, the coming days could provide leader Kim Jong Un with a fresh opportunity to return to the headlines as the country marks the birth anniversary of his grandfather and the country’s late founder, Kim Il Sung, on Thursday.

Pyongyang has been known to launch missiles around key anniversaries and diplomatic events, including during the first summit between prime minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump in February 2017.

Aside from a launch, though, the North has other options for provocation.

One could be a new ballistic missile submarine, which South Korean and US intelligence authorities believe Kim’s regime is set to roll out, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported Sunday, citing unidentified sources. The North Korean leader, the sources said, may merely be biding his time before unveiling the 3,000-tonne sub.

According to a report released Tuesday by the Office of the director of National Intelligence, Kim could even look to resume nuclear tests this year in a bid to force Biden “to deal with him on Pyongyang’s terms.”

The North has not conducted a nuclear test since September 2017 and any return to testing would be seen by Tokyo and Washington as extremely provocative.

“North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may take a number of aggressive and potentially destabilising actions to reshape the regional security environment… up to and including the resumption of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) testing,” the ODNI said in its annual US threat assessment.

“We assess that Kim views nuclear weapons as the ultimate deterrent against foreign intervention and believes that over time he will gain international acceptance and respect as a nuclear power,” the report added. “He probably does not view the current level of pressure on his regime as enough to require a fundamental change in its approach.”

While the White House has ruled out a Biden-Kim summit in the near future, Suga said earlier this month that he remained open to a meeting.

“Japan must take the initiative,” he said. “I, myself, am determined to meet Kim Jong Un face-to-face without any conditions.”

Meanwhile, a joint report released the same day by Asan Institute for Policy Studies and the Rand Corp. think tanks warned that by 2027, the North could have have up to 242 nuclear weapons, dozens of long-range weapons capable of striking the continental US and hundreds of nuclear-tipped weapons that could strike Japan.

That report warned that the US strategy of negotiating with North Korea to achieve its denuclearisation “has failed and seems likely to continue failing,” and that serious consideration should be given to bolstering deterrent capabilities, including the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/04/14/national/suga-biden-summit-north-korea-missiles/

 

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