North Korea claims to have carried a very important test at a satellite-launching site. Security experts believe it could be a ground-based test of an engine to power a satellite launcher or an intercontinental ballistic missile. All of this comes at a time when Kim Jong Un appears to have shut the door on the US for further negotiations. And while North Korea was planning the test, US President Donald Trump was still hoping to reach an agreement on the denuclearization. But with the latest test, it seems even as the Trump White House is actively pursuing diplomacy with North Korea, a centre-piece of his foreign policy agenda, it has failed to extract any concessions on the denuclearisation of the peninsula.
In return for Trump’s soft stance on the regime’s pranks, the mercurial leader of North Korea seems to be showing no signs of giving any concessions at any point in the near future. He is openly defying international norms as details reveal the latest test took place at the Sohae satellite launch site, which the US once claimed Pyongyang had promised to close. And against all the odds and a wide spectrum of UN sanctions, the North Korea has also re-started the testing of short-range ballistic missiles. If that was not enough to test the waning power of the west, the regime openly renewed its verbal assault against the US president, nearly a year after he said Washington reserved the right to use military force against the country.
None of this comes as a surprise. The timid response from the US and Trump’s love for dictators will only encourage leaders like Kim Jong Un to continue with their policy of intimidation. And from the looks of it, he might have succeeded already. Going by the current trends, it is likely that North Korea, a prime and perhaps the only example of a hermit kingdom is using the United States’ receding influence on global issues as an excuse to advance its authority over the issue of denuclearisation, perhaps even to expand its nuclear program.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2019.