North Korea Missile Launch Defiance to Diplomatic Efforts?

North Korea launched what appears to be 2 KN-02 short-range missile into the sea off its eastern coast on Monday 11 a.m. and noon, extending its series of launches to six missiles, including three on Saturday and one on Sunday. The North said that it was part of their regular military drills in exercising its right to test-fire rockets.

South Korea ministry officials said they are closely watching the movements of North’s military in case of further launches.

“The North Korean armed forces’ exercises to suppress nuclear war threats from the U.S. and the South Korean puppets are an uncontestable legal right of a sovereign country. Despite that, the U.S. and the puppets are running wild on using the rocket launch exercises on the 18th and 19th against the Republic of North Korea,” the Korean Central News Agency said in a dispatch attributed to a body that handles inter-Korean affairs.

The launching follow months of North Korean threats moderated since the U.S. and South Korea intensified diplomatic to ease the tension and boost Chinese’s participation in global sanctions that target the North’s weapons program.

North Korea portrays the U.S. and South Korea as threatening it with nuclear war and has said it intends to build up its own nuclear deterrent to protect itself from the threat. Was the test launch a defiance of the diplomatic efforts and global sanctions?

North Korea is believed to have hundreds of short-range missiles, many of which could target Seoul and South Korea’s densely populated areas. Each year, North Korea launches short-range missiles around a hundred miles a few times a year with March as the last reported firing. The test poses no danger to the neighboring countries.

South Korean government condemned Pyongyang’s earlier launch and urged them to come to the negotiating table over the Kaesong Industrial complex they jointly run. The industrial park opened in late 2004, and 120 South Korean firms employed 53,000 workers. The facility’s operation has been suspended since April 9, when a South Korean firm withdrew its raw materials, and finished goods such as shoes and bags and North Korea withdrew its 53,000 workers.

The missile test was criticized by South Korea’s Unification Ministry as deplorable and urged the North to hold talks and lower tension over the inter-Korean industrial park suspension in the North’s border city of Kaesong.

In the past month, the tension on the Korean peninsula subsided, after the United Nations Security Council imposed tougher sanctions against Pyongyang after its third test in February.

On Sunday, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon asked the North to refrain from further missile tests, and the U.S. made a statement. “North Korea will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which only further isolate [North Korea] and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in Northeast Asia,” said Caitlin Hayden, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council in the U.S. “We continue to urge the North Korean leadership to heed President Obama’s call to choose the path of peace and come into compliance with its international obligations.”

For weeks, the North issued daily warning of impending nuclear war with the U. S. and South Korea. Is Pyongyang’s threat of attack an attempt to generate enough fear to prompt other countries to consider concessions on security and aid?

Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas