I recently wrote for the May edition of Arms Control Today about North Korea’s rocket launch. Click here for the full piece.
–“The launch, in effect, shattered a Feb. 29 deal made with the United States on halting all missile and nuclear activities.”
–“Two days after the launch, Pyongyang rolled out what appeared to be new missiles in its military parade celebrating the 100th birthday of Kim Il Sung, the regime’s late founder. Some news reports initially speculated they were mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)… [but] specialists on North Korean missiles, however, have dismissed them as mock-ups. Attention quickly shifted to the vehicles carrying the missiles, amid suspicions that they came from China, North Korea’s main patron.” (Click Read More)
–“U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies is said to have clearly reminded his North Korean counterpart, Kim Gye Gwan, of the meaning of this provision during February talks. Sources say, however, the young Kim Jong Un, the country’s new leader, was unable to defy his late father and predecessor’s command to complete the rocket launch, which was timed to mark the Kim Il Sung centennial and proclaim North Korea to be a ‘strong and prosperous nation.'”
–“A key element of the Security Council statement is the use of a “trigger” clause, in which the council “expresses its determination to take action accordingly in the event of a further DPRK launch or nuclear test.” Although a Security Council statement is not legally binding, the provision lays the groundwork for a swift sanctions resolution in the event of a future nuclear or missile test. The inclusion of the trigger clause is also significant in that Beijing has not blocked it, which may reflect Chinese disappointment after failed attempts in 2006 and 2009 to dissuade North Korea from launching missiles.”
–“Previous North Korean provocations led to a flurry of diplomacy to resume talks. This time, Washington does not seem eager to return to negotiations. Instead, North Korea’s rocket launch seems to have triggered a different approach in the way the United States and South Korea deal with Pyongyang. Instead of initiating more talks with the regime and trying to prevent its every move in its nuclear and missile game, the two allies are aiming at Pyongyang’s human rights violations and the livelihoods of the North Korean people.”
–“Little is known about the North’s uranium-enrichment capabilities, but a uranium nuclear test could indicate an operational uranium-enrichment program, successful production of HEU in sufficient quantities, and a bomb design. All this would equip Pyongyang to build up larger stocks of weapons-grade material. From a nonproliferation standpoint, a uranium test would have serious implications.”
–“A key question is whether Pyongyang has the political motivation to follow through with any nuclear test in the near future in the face of tougher international attitudes after its unsuccessful rocket launch last month.”