North Korea in Self-Destruct Mode ?

North Korea appears to be in a self-destruct mode. The isolated country recently fired what appeared to be several land-to-ship missiles off its east coast — the latest in a fast-paced series of missile tests defying world pressure to rein in its weapons programme. India joined the global community in reacting strongly to the nuclear and ballistic missile programmes of North Korea, saying its proliferation links pose a grave threat to international peace and stability.

“Something has to be done about it,” US President Donald Trump said. North Korea’s successful test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is seen as a major milestone in its long-term effort to build a missile that could carry a nuclear warhead to attack the mainland United States. The launches come less than a week after the United Nations Security Council passed fresh sanctions on the reclusive state, which said it would continued to pursue its nuclear and missile program without delay.

The latest launch is the fourth missile test by North Korea since South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office on May 10 pledging to engage in dialogue with Pyongyang, saying sanctions and pressure alone have failed to resolve the growing threat from the North’s advancing nuclear and missile programme. Under third-generation leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea has been conducting such tests at an unprecedented pace in an effort to develop an ICBM capable of hitting the mainland US.

In the three earlier launches, North Korea tested different kinds of ballistic missiles, two medium-to-long range missiles as well as a shortrange Scud class weapon. The latest launches of the apparent anti-ship missiles follow Kim’s order to develop North Korea’s own ballistic missile that precisely strikes targets such as enemy vessels. The isolated country, which has conducted dozens of missile tests and tested two nuclear bombs since the beginning of 2016 in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, says the programme is necessary to counter US aggression.

Strategic experts believe that a clear policy is the need of hour on North Korea’s missile advances. New Delhi on its part reacted strongly to the nuclear and ballistic missile programmes of North Korea, saying these also adversely impacted India’s national security India also called upon North Korea to refrain from such actions that undermine international peace and stability. “DPRK’s continued pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and its proliferation links pose a grave threat to international peace and stability.

They have also adversely impacted India’s national security,” the external affairs ministry said in a release. “We also urge the international community to work together to hold accountable all those parties that have supported these programmes,” it said. Cocking a snook at the United States and the world community in general, North Korea has vowed to not back off from its nuclear weapons drive. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has promised to demonstrate his nation’s “mettle” to the US. His statements make it clear that there could be more nuclear tests in the near future. It is also clear that the Chinese pressure is not working on North Korea.

Beijing has either not been doing enough or that it is not being heard in Pyongyang. The second is more unlikely and the first more probable. This should not come as a surprise because China is using North Korea to sustain its importance in the world order. The United States has called for a global action against North Korea, but China knows it can (and will possibly) block any such move through its veto in the United Nations Security Council. This would mean that the US and other countries in the West may have to take a collective decision to move against North Korea. This will lead to an already frayed China-US ties getting worse.

The Trump administration has tried to pressure Beijing to rein in North Korea, a major trading partner, to halt Kim Jong Un’s development of nuclear weapons before they have the ability to threaten the U.S. homeland. Trump has voiced his frustration in recent days that China hasn’t done more. In a show of force against Pyongyang, the US and South Korea staged a rare live-fire drill as tensions grew over the peninsula following the ICBM test that sparked global alarm as it suggested North Korea now possessed an ICBM capable of reaching Alaska, a major milestone for the reclusive, nuclear-armed state.

The live-fire drill, designed to “sternly respond” to potential missile launches by North Korea, saw two US bombers destroy “enemy” missile batteries and South Korean jets mount precision strikes against underground command posts. The North’s state-run Rodong newspaper accused Washington and Seoul of ratcheting up tensions with the drill, in an editorial titled “Don’t play with fire on a powder keg.” “The US, with its dangerous military provocation, is pushing the risk of a nuclear war on the peninsula to a tipping point,” it said, describing the peninsula as the “world’s biggest tinderbox.”

In course of the drill, long-range B-1B Lancer bombers reportedly flew close to the heavilyfortified border between two Koreas and dropped 2,000-pound (900 kilogram) bombs. Pyongyang described the joint drill as a “dangerous military gambit of warmongers who are trying to ignite the fuse of a nuclear war on the peninsula.” “A small misjudgment or error can immediately lead to the beginning of a nuclear war, which will inevitably lead to another world war,” it warned.

Tension has been high as the US administration, under President Donald Trump, and Kim Jong-Un have exchanged hostile rhetoric for months. The US, South Korea and Japan, a staunch US ally, have been calling for “early adoption” of a new UN Security Council resolution and additional sanctions to demonstrate to Pyongyang the consequences of its actions. As of now, the international community is scrambling for an answer to contain Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

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