Newsmax reported on Monday, March 6th,that the Nuclear-armed North Korea said its missile launches were training for a strike on US bases in Japan, as global condemnation of the regime swelled. In a phone call, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that the threat from North Korea had “entered a new stage”. The UN Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday after a request by Washington and Tokyo to discuss additional measures following the launch.
On March 6, Department of Defense posted a press release that Defense Department officials detected and tracked multiple missile launches out of North Korea, four of which landed in the Sea of Japan. The missiles landed in the vicinity of Akita Prefecture off the coast of Japan near that nation’s exclusive economic zone, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters.
“These launches, which coincide with the start of our annual defensive exercise, Foal Eagle, with the Republic of Korea’s military, are consistent with North Korea’s long history of provocative behavior, often timed to military exercises that we do with our ally,” he said.
The United States stands with its allies “in the face of this very serious threat and are taking steps to enhance our ability to defend against North Korea’s ballistic missiles, such as the deployment of a [Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense] battery to South Korea, which will happen as soon as feasible,” Davis said.
On March 7, PACOM deployed Defensive Anti-Missile System to Korean Peninsula to South Korea, implementing the U.S.-South Korean alliance’s July decision to bring the defensive capability to the Korean Peninsula. The THAAD system is a strictly defensive capability, and it poses no threat to other countries in the region, Pacom officials said. It is designed to intercept and destroy short- and medium-range ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final phase of flight.
The latest article from New Strait Times coming out Friday, March 10th notes China weighing in on the issue. “China asks N. Korea to stop missile tests, tells US and South to seek talks”.
“BEIJING: China, fearing a rapid escalation of tension on the Korean peninsula, called on North Korea on Wednesday to stop its nuclear and missile tests and for South Korea and the United States to stop joint military drills and seek talks instead.
North Korea launched four ballistic missiles on Monday in response to the joint US-South Korea military exercises, which it regards as preparation for war.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the tests by the North and the joint drills across the border in South Korea were causing tension to increase like two “accelerating trains coming toward each other.”
“China’s suggestion is, as a first step, for North Korea to suspend nuclear and missile activities, and for the US and South Korea to also suspend large-scale military drills,” Wang said at his annual news conference on the sidelines of the meeting of China’s parliament in Beijing.”
Since the deployment of THADD, the news site notes, South Korean companies in China have reported cyber attacks, store closures and fines. State-controlled media in China has called for a boycott of South Korean goods and services. All apparently are China’s response to continued South Korea and US military training exercises and land swap for the THADD.
The diplomatic standoff between Beijing and Seoul has deepened over the past week, with Chinese authorities closing nearly two dozen retail stores of South Korea’s Lotte Group, which approved a land swap with the military last week to allow it to install the anti-missile system.
China is also isolated North Korea’s most important supporter, but China has been angered by its repeated missile and nuclear tests and has signed up for increasingly severe U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang, including suspending coal imports.
Business Insider list of 2016 tests:
January 6, 2016: North Korea conducts its fourth ever nuclear weapons test.
February 7, 2016: The rogue regime fires a long-range rocket.
April 15: Pyongyang test launches the Musudan ballistic missile for the first time.
April 23: North Korea fires a submarine-launched ballistic missile.
April 28: The rogue regime tests two more Musudan missiles.
May 30: Another Musudan missile test for the books.
June 21: The rogue regime pops off another two Musudan missiles, one of which is viewed as a success.
July 6: For the first time, the US sanctions North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
July 9: The North fires off another SLBM.
July 18: The rogue regime fires three more ballistic missiles.
August 3: North Korea fires 2 more ballistic missiles, and this time one of them was headed toward Japan
August 24: The defiant SLBM tests from the Hermit Kingdom continue.
September 5: North Korea adds another three more ballistic missile tests to its running tally.
September 9: North Korea conducts its fifth and largest nuclear test.
September 20: Pyongyang conducts a ground test of a new rocket engine.
October 15: North Korea carries out its seventh Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile test.
October 19: Less than a week after the last test, the North conducts another Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile test.
In May 2016, Obama imposed sanctions on North Korea for missile tests. Then September 9, 2016 even Politico ran an article about North Korea missile tests that condemned Obama’s response. He was attending the East Asia Summit, part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Laos on September 8. Back home pressure grew though — including from his own party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton — to take more aggressive action against North Korea for its latest nuclear weapons test, including using new sanctions authority that could put the White House at odds with China, Pyongyang’s protector and largest trading partner.
In all previous nuclear or missile crises instigated by Pyongyang, China has always insisted that North Korea be reasoned and negotiated with, while concurrently dissuading the U.S. and ROK from implementing militarily punitive measures, and refusing to apply any economic sanctions that would seriously pressure the DPRK. From a cynical perspective, it can be argued that the PRC’s leadership wants both Washington and Seoul to maintain a policy of perpetual strategic patience, and treat North Korea with “kid gloves” while respecting Chinese deterrence sensitivities. The Diplomat article July 15, 2016.
Speculation by Time is that the change in Chinese attitude could have been spurred by the assassination of Kim Jong Nam — elder half-brother to Kim Jong Un — using VX nerve agent in Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13. Kim Jong Nam lived mostly in the semiautonomous Chinese territory of Macau and was believed under the protection of Beijing. Pyongyang’s continued missile tests undermine Chinese arguments that THAAD is unnecessary. Beijing repeatedly calls for a return to the six-party denuclearization talks. The childishness of North Korea undermines China’s reputation around the world which is especially damaging as China attempts to recast itself as a global player.
So the oh-so-psychotic Kim Jung Un now has to contend with a different leader here in the US and an evermore impatient big cousin, China. I am guessing but given all that is at stake in the Pacific and Asian areas, China may not be tolerant much longer of this crazed relative. One of the worst things for many in the Far East culture is embarrassment.
Now that North Korea has made moves that affect China, I wonder how long it will be before Kim Jung Un is either no longer breathing or locked in a Chinese cell for life.