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NORTH KOREAN MISSILE TESTS FOLLOW US BOMBER DRILLS

Region of Concern: Korean Peninsula

Written By Naomi Whipps; Edited by Elena Alice Rossetti and Cameron Munoz

Date: August 30, 2023


Map of the Divided Korea[1]


Event: On Wednesday, August 30, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the waters surrounding the Korean Peninsula. The missile launch followed a joint US-South Korean aerial exercise including the deployment of US B-1B bombers.[2] The US and South Korea increased their joint military drills, this past week, as part of the Ulchi Freedom Shield exercise.[3] Trilateral drills between the US, South Korea, and Japan have expanded after their leaders’ summit at Camp David, earlier in August. The summit’s statements support the denuclearization of North Korea, in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions, and emphasize cooperation in intelligence sharing and responses to the threats in the Indo-Pacific region.[4] North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has denounced the United States’ involvement in the region and instructed the military to be on high alert for a possible enemy invasion.[5]


Significance: North Korea will almost certainly continue to run military drills and test illicit weapons in violation of UN Security Council resolutions to prove its strength and respond to US involvement in the region. Kim Jong Un will likely use the US, South Korean, and Japanese military drills to instill fear of invasion and spur internal support for the North Korean military. North Korea will very likely attempt to expand its nuclear weapons arsenal to respond to the perceived threat. Diplomatic ties and cooperation between the US, South Korea, and Japan will likely increase to address the growing threats from North Korea. The US will very likely advocate for stronger diplomatic relations between South Korea and Japan to present a united front against North Korea. It is almost certain that trilateral drills in the Indo-Pacific will continue, despite North Korea’s threats. It is unlikely North Korea will carry out an attack against the three allied nations in the very near future. UN's response to the illegal activity from North Korea will likely be slow and limited due to Russia and China blocking unified action.


Recommendations: CTG recommends South Korea, Japan, and the US extend and diversify defense cooperation and participation in trilateral exercises. Generating information-sharing systems to exchange real-time data on North Korean missile launches should be a top priority. South Korea and Japan should focus on strengthening their diplomatic relations. The countries’ leaders should schedule regular meetings. The United States should join with other member states of the UN to call for Council action and place pressure on China and Russia to obtain cooperation. The UN should remain consistent in denouncing North Korea’s use of illicit weapons. The UN Security Council should increase pressure on North Korea to end the missile launches and engage in diplomacy.

 

[2] North Korea launches ballistic missiles toward the sea after US flies bombers during drills, AP, August 2023, https://apnews.com/article/north-korea-missile-launch-us-drills-1351d0054dcdce86ede6942773b95cea

[3] The Republic of Korea and United States announce exercise Ulchi Freedom Shield 23, America’s Navy, August 2023, https://www.navy.mil/Press-Office/Press-Releases/display-pressreleases/Article/3491680/the-republic-of-korea-and-united-states-announce-exercise-ulchi-freedom-shield/

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