FILE - In this May 10, 2016 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at parade participants at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea. If North Korea has been a foreign policy headache for Barack Obama’s presidency, it threatens to be a migraine for his successor. The next president will likely contend with an adversary able to strike the continental U.S. with a nuclear weapon. Whoever wins the White House in the Nov. 8 election is expected to conduct a review of North Korea policy(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

Kim Jong-un Does what Kim Jong-do

True to form, North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un has responded to the most recent United Nations’ sanctions against his country by engaging in precisely the behavior which led to the sanctions.

Earlier this week, the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a new round of sanctions against North Korea, designed to put increased economic pressure on the pariah state in the hopes of forcing it to cease its nuclear and missile tests (the article from The Resurgent is here).

In response, Kim today launched a ballistic missile over Japan and into the northern Pacific Ocean.  This is the furthest a North Korean missile has traveled, achieving a range of 2,300 miles and a height of 478 miles.  It is initially believed to be a “Hwasong-12” type intermediate range missile.  North Korea’s capability means that the U.S. territory of Guam is now within range of its weapons.

The United States and its allies are even now deciding how to respond.  The U.S. and Japan have condemned North Korea.  South Korea launched its own missile drill to demonstrate its resolve.  The U.N. Security Council is meeting this afternoon to decide what to do next.

According to analysts, North Korea’s intent with these missile launches is the following:

  • Have the international community accept North Korea’s influence over a wider geographical sphere (that is, if other countries tacitly accept overflights of Japan, then North Korea will be emboldened to continue).
  • Put pressure on the U.S. by being able to target Guam; the goal is to get the U.S. to remove its troops from South Korea
  • Weaken Japan and South Korea’s trust in the United States as an ally.  That is, will the U.S. risk a nuclear war to protect its allies?  Ask Ukraine.
  • Test the atmospheric re-entry capabilities of its missiles to ensure that a nuclear warhead could survive the launch and re-entry to hit its intended target.
  • Continue to build out its land-based and sea-based ballistic missile capability.

If past history is any clue, the U.N. Security Council will adopt additional sanctions this evening and then Kim Jong-un will respond with more weapons tests.

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Aaron Simms

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