/ 26 March 2021

North Korea back at it

THE SQUIZ
North Korea yesterday fired two short-range missiles into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan in the first such launch in almost a year. The ballistic missile launches follow smaller tests on Sunday, which violate United Nations Security Council resolutions.

WHAT’S THAT ABOUT?
No need to pinch yourself – you haven’t woken up in 2018… But there are similarities. It highlights the same problem that’s been in focus for years, the US military spokesman said: “the threat that North Korea’s illicit weapons program poses to its neighbours and the international community.” And it’s the same tactic from North Korea to get the attention of the same target – America. What’s different this time around is there’s a new president in the White House – one that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has so far snubbed despite US diplomatic efforts to open the lines of communication. Instead, experts say Kim is getting his missile tests to convey his feelings about the current state of affairs to President Joe Biden.

WHAT’S KIM CRANKY ABOUT?
The usual. Kim wants America to come back to the negotiating table – something that hasn’t happened since the failed second summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in February 2019. Kim wants to discuss major sanctions relief in exchange for undertakings he’ll scale back his nuclear capabilities. And it’s an interesting time for Kim to be pressing the missile test button. Biden and Co are completing a policy review on America’s approach to North Korea in the coming weeks. And we’re not far away from the Olympics in Tokyo – and some experts say yesterday’s tests coinciding with the start of the Torch Relay isn’t a coincidence. For his part, Biden played down the threat overnight.

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