Political Focus: North Korea launches failed missile test

Melissa Deatsch, Sports Editor

North Korea launched an unsuccessful missile test on Sunday, April 16. According to the U.S. Military, the device blew up “almost immediately” following the launch.

The test came just one day after North Koreans celebrated the country’s military strength in a parade for the anniversary of the birth of the regime’s founder, Kim Il-Sung. The parade showed off new missiles and launchers from the North Korean military.

This semester’s final Political Focus will explain the significance of this missile test to the U.S.

The status of North Korea and the U.S.

In the week leading up to Saturday’s North Korean celebration, tensions rose as President Donald Trump ordered a U.S. aircraft-carrier strike group to the Korean Peninsula on Wednesday. The order came after a week of tough talk between the U.S. and North Korea and in anticipation of the missile test to coincide with the holiday.

Trump sent a series of tweets on Thursday, including one that said, “I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the US, with its allies, will!”

In response, North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol told the Associated Press that North Korea was prepared to go to war against the U.S. and its allies. On Friday, China — North Korea’s only ally — stepped in to try easing tensions.

U.S. concern over North Korea’s nuclear program has continued to rise, as North Korea appears to be getting closer to creating a nuclear missile that could reach the U.S. mainland.

A January 2017 BBC article reported that North Korea has a nuclear bomb, but needs to make it small enough to fit on a missile before it is capable of a nuclear attack. North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, the most recent in September 2016.

Sunday’s test failure, however, doesn’t appear to back up North Korea’s claims of strength. North Korean officials have made claims that the country possesses the ability to launch an attack on the U.S., but have shown no evidence to back that up.

U.S. response to the missile test

Trump has repeatedly ensured that the U.S. will not let North Korea develop a weapon capable of reaching the U.S., saying all options are on the table to deter this from happening.

Trump’s National security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said on ABC’s “This Week” that the initial efforts to deter North Korea’s nuclear program will be peaceful, and military action is not being considered at this time.

“It’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully,” he said on the program. “We are working together with our allies and partners and with the Chinese leadership to develop a range of options.”

McMaster echoed the Trump administration’s efforts to push China to reign in North Korea. As North Korea’s only ally and biggest trading partner, China holds a lot of economic power over North Korea.

While McMaster and Chinese President Xi Jinping have said U.S. Military action is unlikely, all eyes are on the Korean Peninsula as two of the world’s most unpredictable leaders make claims that could end in mass destruction.