On Monday, August 28, 2017, North Korea fired a missile over Japanese territory. It was the first missile that the North Koreans have fired over Japan since 2009. The missile passed over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and ultimately landed in the Pacific Ocean approximately 730 miles east of the Japanese island.
The South Korean Government reported that the missile appeared to have been launched from near Sunan, a suburb of Pyongyang, where the city’s international airport is located. The South Koreans also reported that the missile flew approximately 1700 miles and reached a maximum altitude of approximately 340 miles.
As a result of the missile launch, Japan, for the first time, sent out an emergency message to the residents in and around Hokkaido to take cover immediately. No anti-ballistic missiles were launched by Japan to intercept the North Korean missile.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. He also spoke by phone with President Trump for 40 minutes. The President assured him of the continuing U.S. commitment to Japan’s security. (More on latest North Korean act of provocation here.)
This most recent launch was only one in a series of at least twenty-one missiles fired during fourteen tests in the last six months, and is not the first time North Korea violated international legal restrictions on its nuclear and ballistic programs.
In fact, North Korea is prohibited from conducting such ballistic missile tests by numerous Security Council resolutions. To date, the Security Council has adopted at least seven major resolutions unequivocally prohibiting North Korea from conducting such tests. North Korea has complied with none of the resolutions.
The Security Council, under chapter VII of the United Nations’ Charter, adopted Resolution 1718 in October 14, 2006, after North Korea conducted its first nuclear weapons test on October 9, 2006.
The resolution demanded inter alia that North Korea “not conduct any further nuclear test or launch a ballistic missile.” In addition, the resolution demanded that North Korea “shall suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program.” The resolution further required it to “abandon all other existing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile program[s] in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.” Yet, this was just the beginning of many more tests and Security Council resolutions to follow.
Three years later, on May 25, 2009, North Korea conducted another nuclear test. In response, the Security Council condemned this test as well and adopted Resolution 1874 in June 2009. This resolution adopted the same language used in the previous resolution and demanded North Korea to “suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program.” Similarly, in 2013, 2016, and 2017, the Security Council adopted four more resolutions in response to North Korea’s testing of nuclear and ballistic missiles.
In addition to testing and honing its nuclear and ballistic capabilities, North Korea has engaged in acts of provocation against the United States and South Korea for decades. In December 1994, for example, a U.S. Army helicopter crashed in North Korea. U.S. officials believed it had been shot down by hostile fire. In June 1997, three North Korean vessels crossed into South Korean waters and opened fire in the direction of South Korean military vessels.
Then, in June 2002, a North Korean vessel crossed the demilitarized line and attacked a South Korean naval ship, killing four South Korean marines and severely damaging the South Korean vessel.
In October 2006, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test.
In May 2009, North Korea conducted its second nuclear test.
In March 2010, North Korea sank a South Korean naval vessel with a torpedo in the Yellow Sea, killing forty-six sailors.
In November 2010, North Korea fired artillery shells at South Korea’s Greater Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, killing two South Korean marines and two civilians. Dozens of homes were also destroyed.
In October 2012, North Korea issued a warning claiming it had missiles that could reach the U.S. mainland.
In February 2013, North Korea conducted a third nuclear test. This was the first test conducted under Kim Jong Un.
In May 2014, North Korean officials claimed they can miniaturize nuclear weapons. This process is a necessary step toward placing a nuclear device onto a ballistic missile.
In March 2016, North Korean officials claimed to possess warheads capable of fitting onto their ballistic missiles.
In April 2017, North Korea warned the U.S. in response to the U.S.’s deployment of a naval strike group to the region saying, “We will make the US fully accountable for the catastrophic consequences that may be brought about by its high-handed and outrageous acts.”
In July 2017, North Korean officials claimed to have conducted their first successful ICBM test.
North Korea is following a recognizable pattern. It creates a crisis to get attention from the West and then enters into negotiations where the West gives it the food and technology its own sclerotic economy and mismanagement cannot produce for itself. Then the West leaves, hoping that the North Koreans have seen the error of their ways, only to be disappointed once again, when the regime needs something else it cannot otherwise produce or purchase.
The problem is that the North Korean elites, as inept as they are in running an economy, do know how to focus their efforts laser-like at what they know they need to achieve—to wit, nuclear weapons deliverable by ballistic missile—to endlessly blackmail the West in the future.
We are at the tipping point. We must either act now to ensure that the DPRK never gets deliverable nukes or be prepared to pay through the nose to keep them from using their weapons against us or our allies.
President Trump has set the proper tone. Even China and Russia appear to be paying attention. Stop North Korea now or face the unpalatable consequences.
We need to pray for and support our President as he deals with the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
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