What does Kim really want Can its nuclear race be

What does Kim really want? Can its nuclear race be stopped?

by Guido Santevecchi

An underground test now seems imminent, the last one provoking an earthquake. The Marshal would be ready for a first strike, preventive action in case of danger for the regime

Since the beginning of the year, North Korea has launched more than 70 missiles of all types: yesterday’s 23 short-range missiles were intended to scare South Koreans. But first, Kim Jong-un showed the full range of the arsenal: medium-range bombs, like the one that flew over Japan on October 4 and set off alarm sirens for the population; hypersonic; cruises that can be maneuvered in flight; in March he had released a Hollywood-style film about the launch of an intercontinental Hwasong-17 theoretically capable of reaching United States territory. Again, his propaganda featured the rocket trails left by a train, a technique that increases mobility and the ability to hide launchers in railway tunnels; On October 10, Pyongyang announced that a submarine missile was successfully launched from a position under an artificial lake.

1 What Will Kim’s Next Step Be?
An underground nuclear test now seems imminent and inevitable, the seventh in North Korea’s race to become the most powerful weapon of mass destruction: the last, carried out in September 2017 with a hydrogen bomb in the tunnel, caused an earthquake of over 6 degrees Richter scale.

The Biden administration, which for months has been willfully ignoring Kim’s challenge, said last week it was ready for any mid- and long-term countermeasures, adjustments in our military stance. But now North Korea is a de facto nuclear power and must be treated with caution.

2 What else does the Marshal want to prove and why?

In January 2021, he ordered the development of tactical nuclear weapons for use on the South Korean battlefield and short-range missiles to deliver them to targets, powered by solid fuel to reduce launch preparation time. This year’s tests show that the arsenal has been built up.

3 Why this record number of starts?

They are no longer just provocations to keep the tension high. According to military analysts, they are used to train his gunners for real use in the event of war. Kim announced that the nuclear doctrine had changed: now ready for first strikes, pre-emptive when the regime is at risk.

4 Do you want to get Biden’s attention?

In recent months, North Korea has been all but ignored by the United States, which has pledged itself to defending Ukraine and trying to dissuade China from doing business in Taiwan. Joe Biden certainly does not want to and cannot manage a second and third Asian front alongside the European front opened by Russia. So, to gain attention and bargaining power, Kim needs something spectacular (like the missile over Japan and yesterday’s sequence) and as terrifying as a nuclear explosion.

5 Why Does It Mainly Threaten Seoul?

Andrei Lankov, a Russian, a Pyongyang graduate and now based in Seoul where he is considered the greatest authority on North Korean strategic issues, told NK News: Pyongyang’s nuclear program was originally purely defensive. The Kims were right to fear that without nuclear weapons their regime would be overthrown and they would lose everything, including their lives. But at this stage, further augmenting the arsenal no longer makes sense from a defensive deterrent perspective, it would be what military technicians call overkill, a destructive capacity that exceeds need and wastes resources. This leads me to claim that his ultimate dream is to exert psychological control over South Korea through blackmail as a tactical tool, Professor Lankov concludes.

6 Are international sanctions still needed?

North Korea’s economy is choking on the UN embargo, though China and Russia are now likely to be in breach and unwilling to back fresh pressure on the Security Council. Putin’s and Xi Jinping’s diplomats reiterate that sanctions only make the population suffer. And Kim doesn’t care anyway: We’ll endure them for another hundred years, but we’ll never give up our nuclear arsenal, he said in early October. An increasingly concrete and imminent threat is Kim’s only chance to force Seoul (and perhaps Washington) to negotiate concessions, relying on the banks of Moscow and Beijing. the classic Pyongyang strategy (used with some results by many American presidents, not just Donald Trump), adapted to the new international instability. It’s more dangerous. Unfortunately, analysts say the United States can now only negotiate a plan to contain Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal.

November 2, 2022 (change November 2, 2022 | 23:10)