From early March, Pyongyang raised tensions on the Korean peninsula by firing short-range and medium-range missiles and artillery shells in a show of force against annual US-South Korea war games, which North Korea considers as a dress rehearsal for northward invasion.
North Korea appears to be getting ready to conduct another nuclear test, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday, citing signs of increased movement around the North’s nuclear test site.
Pyongyang is now gearing up for a ruling Workers Party congress in early May, where leader Kim Jong Un is likely to boast about his achievements in building a weapons programme. If yesterday’s failure is confirmed as a Musudan test, it would fuel doubts about just how far North Korea has gone in developing a reliable nuclear delivery system. “From the technical perspective, North Korea is seen as being able to mount a nuclear warhead on its short-range Scud and medium-range Rodong missiles”, said Choi Jin Wook, president of the Korea Institute for National Unification.
Speculation about a fifth test has intensified after power-crazed Kim Jong-un ordered a test of a nuclear warhead last month, according to North Korean media.
Trump suggested the USA military should withdraw from key allies South Korea and Japan, and both countries could instead arm themselves with nuclear weapons.
These punitive measures, which have the potential to impose real economic pain, include suspending currency transfers and restricting North Korea’s lucrative mineral trade that had accounted for over half of the country’s $2.5 billion in exports to China alone.
Few North Korean officials study American politics like Ri, a longtime diplomat and former ambassador who now runs a Pyongyang think tank that monitors global events and reports back to North Korean leadership. She will have the summit with Rouhani and discuss bilateral cooperation and regional issues.