Tensions are high on and around the Korean Peninsula, in part because of ongoing military drills.
China is among the nations pushing and end to the U.S. exercises and the DPRK’s tests. It says that’s the only way constructive dialogue between the sides can resume.
CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg has a closer look at those displays of military might.
Over the past three decades, the DPRK has successfully conducted more than 80 missile tests, according to analysis by the U.S.-based Nuclear Threat Initiative group. The pace accelerated after Kim Jong-Un became Supreme Leader in 2011, following his father’s death.
This year, it broke a barrier. The DPRK fired intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs. The missile tests follow round after round of nuclear tests in the DPRK.
Now, U.S. intelligence reportedly agrees with a Japanese Defense conclusion, that the testing may be linked to a another milestone for Pyongyang-a nuclear warhead so small it can fit into a missile warhead.
“We won’t place our self-defense nuclear deterrent on the negotiation table whatever anyone says, as long as the U.S. maintains a hostile policy and nuclear threats against us,” reports KRT, the government television station in Pyongyang.
The DPRK said it will halt its proliferation when the U.S. stops ITS provocations. Namely, joint military drills – with Republic of Korea and Japan – conducted off Korean shores.
This year, the U.S. reported success with its missile defense systems. It test fired one of its controversial THAAD anti-ballistic missiles in Alaska. The missile intercepted an ICBM-class target missile over the Pacific that had been fired from California. The U.S. says it’s not only a show of force–it’s a precaution.
“Combining nuclear warheads with ballistic missile technology in the hands of Kim Jong-un is a recipe for disaster,” Harry Harris, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command said. “And because he isn’t afraid to fail in public, North Korean capability will continue to improve. So we must study and consider every possible step to increase the defense of our homelands with the best and most effective solutions responsible.”
Each side has condemned the other’s tests and exercises. The U.S. has been especially critical of the DPRK’s nuclear tests.
The U.S. has conducted more nuclear tests than the rest of the world combined – though Washington’s last nuclear test was in 1992. The DPRK’s latest test was last year. China says the only way forward is for both sides to stop preparing for war, and start talking.
“China hopes that all relevant parties move forward together, and, through equal dialogue, find fundamental solutions that address everyone’s reasonable concerns over security,” said Wang Yi, China’s Foreign Minister. “This is the most important key to solving the crux of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, and finally realizing the denuclearization on the Peninsula.”
On Thursday, the U.S. State Department repeated that talks can only happen after it sees significant DPRK denuclearization, and not before.