North Korea’s missile fire test: shows the country “continues to improve and develop ballistics program”

Japan, United States and South Korea “I have reason to be concerned because it shows that North Korea in recent years has pursued its development program, whether ballistic as such or all these missiles.”, reacts Antoine Bondaz, researcher at the Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS), professor at Sciences-Po Paris, and specialist in North Korea Monday, September 13 on franceinfo, after firing test of a new cruise missile range across North Korea. “It’s a cruise missile that travels at a much lower altitude. That makes it more complex for some defense systems to intercept.”added Antoine Bondaz.

“It’s a message sent to South Korea and Japan.”

Antoine Bonaz

to France

franceinfo: Is Japan correct in mentioning the existence of a real and serious threat to the country’s peace and security?

Antoine Bonaz: This is the case for all countries in the region: South Korea, Japan, but also the United States, which has a very strong military presence in these two countries. They have reason to worry because it shows that North Korea in recent years has pursued its development program, whether ballistic as such or for all these missiles. They are long-range cruise missiles that can hit Japanese interests in the archipelago in particular. North Korea continues to improve and develop all of its weapons systems. It is a context for increasing the capacities of all actors [Etats-Unis, Corée du Sud, Japon] that North Korea has tested these two missiles.

And the development of these types of weapons, what does that change?

Over the past two years, North Korea has stepped up short-range ballistic tests. What’s different about this weekend’s double test is that it’s a cruise missile that travels at a much lower altitude. This makes their interception by certain defense systems more complex. It is a message sent to South Korea and Japan to say that the anti-missile defense of these countries, but also that of the United States that is installed there, will not be enough in case of conflict to prevent attacks. At the moment, these are provocations to which the international community may find it very difficult to respond, because it was not a long-range ballistic shot like in 2016 and 2017 that triggered sanctions by the Security Council of Nations. And so the resolutions don’t explicitly mention cruise missiles as being prohibited. Therefore, it is more difficult for the members of the UN Security Council to coordinate, to reach an agreement.

“The Americans have a very vague new strategy.”

Antoine Bonaz

to France

Kim Jong-Un, the North Korean head of state, did not attend these launches. How do you interpret this?

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This in itself is not fundamentally important information. Importantly, in January, at the 8th Congress of the North Korean Labor Party, Kim Jong-Un announced that the country would continue to develop its nuclear program and, in particular, its tactical weapons. What’s happening this weekend is just understanding the things that have been announced. Meanwhile, talks between the Americans and North Koreans are not progressing. There is no progress, as the United States and North Korea do not seem ready at the moment to make the concessions they both hope.

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