Is North Korea Intimidating US With Its Ballistic Missile Threats?

United States remains prepared and capable of defending itself and its allies from North Korean threats

Earlier this month, North Korea conducted a ballistic missile-related ejection test, triggering varied opinions from the international community.

There was speculation whether the move by North Korea was a move to intimidate the United States and its allies.

In his remarks in Washington DC, Assistant Secretary Frank A. Rose for Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Institute for Corean-American Studies (ICAS) addressed the issue by saying that North Korea’s effort to develop ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction capabilities is a clear sign for its intention to intimidate its neighbors and prevent the United States from meeting its regional security commitments.

5 MWe experimental reactor at Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center.

In addition, North Korea’s provocative missile and nuclear tests, and its official public statements have made clear its intentions to threaten the United States with long-range nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.

“As the North Korean ballistic missile threat to U.S. and allied interests grows, so too must our response.” – Mr. Frank

Aside from its intention to intimidate the US and its allies, North Korea’s missile development does not just threaten South Korea, it also explicitly threatens Japan and the U.S. ability to deploy forces into the region in the event of a crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

In fact, a number of North Korea’s provocative missile tests have overflown the Sea of Japan, creating understandable cause for alarm. In response to this growing threat, the United States and Japan continue to deepen their cooperation on BMD in several ways.

Why is North Korea so keen on continuing its current course of behavior even in the face of enormous international costs?

According to Assistant Secretary Frank, one of the most glaring miscalculations of the North Korean regime is believing that its military capabilities will garner it respect in the international community.

He noted that as North Korea spends staggering amounts of its GDP on military hardware to threaten its neighbors, it finds itself increasingly isolated and with its citizens deprived of basic needs.

Amid the hardships faced by its people when it comes to economic prosperity, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program remains a priority for the ruling regime.

On Confronting The Threat From North Korea

Assistant Secretary Frank said the U.S. approach to defending against the possible ballistic missile threat from North Korea is two pronged.

First, the United States is improving its capability to protect the U.S. homeland from an intercontinental ballistic missile launched from North Korea.

Second, the United States works with regional allies to defend their territories from North Korean aggression, and in the case of our alliances with Seoul and Tokyo, to develop alliance solutions to these threats.

The US reiterated that as long as North Korea continues to develop and deploy ballistic missiles, the United States will work with its allies and partners to defend against this threat.

“This is a measured, limited, and prudent response.” – Mr. Frank

In addition, the US regional missile defenses in the Asia-Pacific help to reassure US allies and to deter North Korea from seeking to coerce or attack its neighbors.

Assistant Secretary Frank echoed the words of the President in saying that US commitment to the security of allies who live in the shadow of the North Korean threat will not waiver.

US On Denuclearizing North Korea

United States remains committed to a denuclearized North Korea that respects the rights of its citizens.

In June 2009, the United Nations unanimously adopted resolution 1874, imposing stricter sanctions on the recalcitrant regime.

The new resolution has 34 points, the first of which “Condemns in the strongest terms the nuclear test conducted by the DPRK on 25 May 2009 (local time) in violation and flagrant disregard of its relevant resolutions, in particular resolutions 1695 (2006) and 1718 (2006), and the statement of its President of 13 April 2009 (S/PRST/2009/7).”

Since the adoption of Resolution 1874, countries have intercepted and seized tons of contraband cargo, including a massive arms shipment uncovered by Thailand in December. These interdictions show that countries are taking seriously their obligations to enforce these tough new measures. The United States will continue to press on sanctions implementation until there is concrete, verifiable progress on denuclearization.

Advancing human rights is a top U.S. priority in US North Korea policy as well and is among the primary factors that will determine if any long-term improvement between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will be possible.

The Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2094, strongly condemning North Korea’s highly provocative February 12 nuclear test and imposing significant new sanctions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

The US says the strength, breadth, and severity of these sanctions will raise the cost to North Korea of its illicit nuclear program and further constrain its ability to finance and source materials and technology for its ballistic missile, conventional, and nuclear weapons programs.

Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.