It looks like the enigmatic, elusive like an ox leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, is apparently set on stirring up the pot on the Korean Peninsula with another round of military provocation. According to the usually reliable Korea Times, South Korean defense officials informed National Assembly members this week that North Korea may be planning to launch a long-range missile on October 10th to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the nation’s one-and-only Workers’ Party.
Details on rumored North Korea missile test in October
Political analysts point out that another provocation by North Korea such as firing a missile on an anniversary would clearly damage the recent conciliatory mood on the Korean Peninsula.
The Korea Times article noted that the North is apparently close to completing construction at its rocket launch facility along the west coast border with South Korea.
Based on satellite imagery taken this week, a new 67-meter-tall gantry has been erected at the facility, which military experts says can be used for the launch of long-range missiles more than double the size of the 30-meter North Korean Unha-3 that was launched into orbit in late 2012.
The planned missile launch comes just a few weeks after the two nations came to an agreement this summer to defuse mounting tensions, with the South agreeing to stop anti-North Korean broadcasts on the border on the condition of “no further abnormal situations” created by North Korea.
Of course, to a preening megalomaniac like Kim Jong Un, maybe an unannounced long-range missile launch just weeks after you agreed to peace is “normal”.
As reported by ValueWalk, the recent agreement between North Korea and South Korea came after a landmine explosion in August that killed two South Korean soldiers on its side of the DMZ along the border with North Korea. The South retaliated by restarting propaganda broadcasts via giant loudspeakers placed close to the border. The situation intensified as the two bitter foes exchanged artillery barrages (no casualties).
The North then upped the ante by declaring a “state of semi-war,” before the two sides finally sat down to serious negotiations that eventually resulted in an agreement.
Earlier this summer, North’s National Defense Commission announced that the country had achieved a major breakthrough in its nuclear weapons program by developing warheads small enough to fit on long-range missiles.
The NDC also claimed that Kim Jong Un was willing to use the new technology to “defend the North,” and warned the U.S. not to attempt to challenge the nation’s military development.
Statement from South Korea
In response to media inquiries, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se commented to the Korea Times Thursday that “The government is closely watching related situations.”
He continued to say: “Seoul plans to drum up global support to encourage the North to sincerely implement the inter-Korean deal and to prevent it from making an additional provocation.”
The South Korean Defense Ministry also announced this week it was planning a number of “aggressive” military operations near the demilitarized zone in the future.