Over the past few weeks, North Korea has increased its missiles testing. On April 2, these tests expanded with the use of a new anti-rocket aircraft system being aimed at mock targets.
Leader Kim Jong-un has hailed the recent tests as demonstrative of the country’s military prowess to the growing concern of neighboring countries to whom North Korea poses a potential threat.
The latest test came in conjunction with a security summit in Washington D.C., where North Korea’s developing nuclear weapons program was a major topic of concern.
North Korea’s missiles testing is not the only source of unease. Indeed, Kim Jong-un has reiterated threats of mounting nuclear strikes on Seoul and Washington D.C., warning that the nation would test nuclear warheads and missiles with the potential to carry out the threat.
The reasoning behind North Korea’s actions appears to be in retaliation to joint actions being taken by South Korea and the United States.
North Korea’s ambassador to the U.N. So Se Pyong has voiced these sentiments, “If the United States continues (drills with the South), then we have to make countermeasures…So we have developed deterrence, nuclear deterrence.”
In recent years, the United States has been conducting military drills with its regional allies in the south of the Korean peninsula.
In March, the United States and South Korea began eight weeks of choreographed drills as part of annual joint exercises in maneuvers that are at their largest scale ever.
These exercises involve about 300,000 South Koreans and 17,000 American troops. North Korean leaders view the joint military drilling as a practice for invasion.
The peninsula remains in a state of semi-war between the divided north and south. This climate of hostility has existed since the ending of the Korean War in 1953. Because North Korea and South Korea only signed an armistice and came to no agreement in a final peace treaty, the two powers are still technically at war.
Tensions seemed to be mounting across the Demilitarized Zone in the Korean peninsula.
The last several months have heightened these contentions after North Korea has claimed to have tested its first hydrogen bomb and fired a satellite into orbit.
Both of these measures represent violations of a number of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
However, increased divisions and tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world has also led to greater harmoniousness and collaborative efforts between other nations.
The members of the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Wednesday morning to institute a new, wider array of sanctions against North Korea following its recent ballistics testing, which the nation is already technically banned from conducting.
During the security summit in Washington, President Obama met on Thursday with leaders of South Korea and Japan to formulate a strategy for deterring North Korea’s nuclear threat.
Obama also met with Chinese president Xi Jinping, who has echoed the calls for North Korea to relinquish its nuclear weapons and agreed to have China follow the economic restrictions imposed.
The new array of sanctions require all North Korean cargo-carrying ships and planes to be inspected. These compulsory searches present a change from the previous policy of only conducting inspections when there are “reasonable grounds.”
However, this previous policy enabled North Korea to hide tools and parts for missiles. Additional sanctions include the prohibition of the sale of aviation and rocket fuel as well as small arms to North Korea.
Bans on North Korean banks associated with its nuclear and missiles programs as well as on exports of most of the country’s natural resources are also being instituted.
The nation’s natural resources account for a huge portion of the total national income, making this measure a hard blow to the overall economy and further isolating North Korea from the rest of the world.
These sanctions are the toughest ever imposed on North Korea. They are an attempt to cripple the portions of the North Korean economy that support the nuclear and ballistic missile programs to prevent their further development.
Though the sanctions are aimed at the ruling elite, these economic blows have inflicted suffering on the nation’s general population. Already the North Korean government’s system of rationing has led to mass starvation. Further economic blows will likely only add to the suffering of the North Korean people.
Meanwhile, Kim Jong-un has slammed collaborative efforts by the US and other nations.
Kim is calling the pressure the West has exerted a violation of North Korea’s legitimate right to access nuclear weapons. Despite the resolve of the US, South Korea, and Japan to work closer together to prevent the North from further developing its nuclear weapons program, it does not seem like Kim and other leaders are willing to back down.
In a show of its retaliation, North Korea fired a short-range missile into the sea and warned it would continue on its track developing nuclear weapons.
With such harsh measures already being imposed on North Korea, world leaders are hopeful that the new measures will finally successfully deter Kim Jong-un’s resolve to acquire nuclear weapons.