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Launching Missiles Merely Routine Exercise?

Kim Yong Hun  |  2007-06-29 19:39
On the 27th, North Korea launched yet another 3 short-range missiles. This is the third time missiles have been launched since the beginning of 2007.

Regarding the missile launch, the U.S and South Korean government responded that they believed the act to be a routine exercise.

It seems that the Ministry of National Defense is seeing the launch as a military routine as North Korea begins its summer training in August, and that the other launches in May and June simply marked the times when Preparation for Action was carried through.

It is a fact that North Korea does carry out missile launches every year as common practice for their military preparations, however this year there are a few uncertain factors that cannot be discarded.

Pressures to ensure North Korea receives its requests = In the past, North Korea has used weapons to take some beneficial position in negotiations and ensure that it obtained requests it demanded.

North Korea analysts argue that the missile and nuclear experiment launched last year was an act to block international sanctions on North Korea and increase threat on cooperation with the U.S. In addition to this, North Korea continued to create tension targeting South Korea and Japan.

On May 25th North Korea launched its first missile test for 2007 and on the 7th of June, monetary issues regarding the Banco Delta Bank (BDA) and North Koreas funds came to a standstill. Amidst these circumstances, analysts argue that firing additional missiles may just be an act of resentment to show that the BDA issue had not been fully resolved.

In an interview with Radio Free Asia on the 7th, John Wolfsthal, a researcher for the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) commented that the recent act may in fact correlate to the transfer of North Koreas funds in BDA and the progress of the six party talks.

He also mentioned that the missile launch may be North Koreas way of expressing antagonism against Japanese authorities for recently placing sanctions on the Chongryon, an association of North Korean residents in Japan.

One researcher from an institute on national policies who wished to remain anonymous said, North Korea probably has a number of reasons as to why it launched missiles and explained, When we carefully reflect upon North Koreas characteristics, we can analyze that this act was more than a mere routine exercise but an act of protest. The researcher added, In particular, there is a possibility that this act was an outburst of resentment against the recent pressures of the Japanese governments control on the Chongryon.

Military strategy against the increasing weapons amidst neighboring countries including South Korea = Furthermore, we have come to a point in time where it is difficult to accept the missile launch as mere common practice. The missile launched on the 7th precedes the discussions made at the military practical affairs talk where efforts were made to ease militaristic tensions.

North Korea also launched missiles into the East Sea on May 25th, the day South Korea also happened to launch its new Aeigis Class destroyer known as the King Sejong. This was a time, 3 days prior to the Taekeuk Training preparations had been made to practice formalities of military exercises when South Korean soldiers gained independence.

The missile launched by North Korea on this day was a Styx missile ranging 24km~46km. In North Korea, the Styx missile is used as a regional missile. Subsequently, there is greater reason to believe that the missiles were targeted at South Koreas increase in weaponry and the launch of King Sejoing. In addition, North Korea has recently been displaying antagonisms over Japans missile defense systems.

On the 25th, the National Intelligence Service revealed, Though North Koreas missile launch was a routine exercise, there is a sense that they are boasting their power in response to our Aegis destroyer.

Project Director for the North East Asian region, Peter Beck of the International Crisis group stated that he did not believe the recent missile test to be routine exercise and commented that it was extremely rare for a missile to be launched into the West sea, within a few days of missiles being launched into the East sea.

As if in disapproval of the increase in South Koreas military weaponry, North Koreas National Peace Committee said on the 10th, It was a severe provocative act against the bilateral talks criticizing that this would have a negative influence in resolving North Koreas issues.

North Koreas missile launch a tactic against South Koreas presidential elections = While stating that the short-range missiles were merely a routine exercise, this act may be a strategy to assert prosperity and unifying control measures to the regime, oblivious to the U.S.

In a telephone conversation with the DailyNK on the 28th, a North Korean defector once a military elite in North Korea said, North Korea believes that the U.S. will accept the short-range missile launch as a routine exercise and explained, This is propaganda to strengthen uniformity in the nation by showing that the U.S. permits these hard line acts and that they (North Korea) will not get dragged around by the U.S.

He added, North Korea is conspiring ways to intervene in South Koreas presidential election and said, This is a tactic to manipulate the Grand National Party and create conflict as they currently show a strong position despite the tensions.

Further, he said, North Korea will try to ensure that an influential pro-North Korea administration is elected at South Koreas upcoming presidential election.

Meanwhile, North Koreas naval headquarters rejected the policy of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) on the 25th revealing that it would expand in the case military forces appeared from the West. Many analyze this warning as an ambiguous strategy against the South to create further tension.
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