UNSC sanctions: North Korea’s Nuke readiness!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
Following new UN Security Council’s sanctions, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered his country to be ready to use its nuclear weapons at any time and the military to be in “pre-emptive attack” mode. With this call North Korea thus has escalated tensions not only with South Korea. But it also marked a further escalation of tension on the entire Korean peninsula after the UN imposed harsh new sanctions against the isolated state. on March 02 for its nuclear program.
The latest UN sanctions, drafted by the US and China, the North’s main ally, punish the isolated country following its fourth nuclear test, in January, as well as last month’s satellite launch, which the US and others say was really a test of ballistic missile technology. UN sanctions apply significant economic pressure to Kim’s regime. The resolution breaks new ground, sanctioning specific sectors key to the North Korean economy — such as mineral exports — and seeking to undermine the North’s use of and access to international transport systems.
North Korea, known for belligerent rhetoric, has previously threatened pre-emptive attacks on its enemies, including South Korea and the United States. The North responded within hours by test-firing rockets into the sea.
Kim said North Korea should bolster up its nuclear force both in quality and quantity and stressed the need to get the nuclear warheads deployed for national defence always on standby so as to be fired any moment. “Now is the time for us to convert our mode of military counteraction towards the enemies into a pre-emptive attack one in every aspect. said Kim.
Kim made the comments as he supervised military exercises involving newly developed rocket launchers, KCNA reported. According to KCNA, Kim said this while monitoring the test firing of a new, high-calibre multiple rocket launcher yesterday, just hours after the UN Security Council unanimously adopted the resolution penalizing the North for its recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.
It did not mention the date of the drills but said the new weapons had South Korea within range. Kim criticised South Korean President Park Geun-hye in his first direct published mention of her by name for acting “in league with the US scoundrels,” adding, “her hysteria will precipitate only her ruin in the long run,” KCNA news agency said.
Military experts, however, doubt North Korea has developed the capability to fire a long-range missile with a miniaturized nuclear warhead. “There’s a difference between having a nuclear test and having a functioning, reliable nuclear weapon you would actually use in conflict that you have 100 percent confidence in,” said Jim Walsh, a research associate at MIT’s Security Studies Program. .”In the wake of sanctions, it is not surprising that we have harsh language. North Korea] is saying they are ready for nuclear action. I don’t think it adds up to much … this reaction is sort of par for the course.”
South Korea’s defence ministry said that North Korea launched half a dozen rockets about 100-150 kilometres (60-90 miles) into the sea off its eastern coast into the sea up to 150km away, an apparent response to the UN sanctions. A spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, said Kim’s comments were not helpful and may have been intended for the domestic audience to boost morale in the face of the new UN sanctions.
A US Defense Department spokesman, Commander Bill Urban, said, responding to the report: “We urge North Korea to refrain from provocative actions that aggravate tensions and instead focus on fulfilling its international obligations and commitments.”
Kim also warned that the situation on the divided Korean peninsula had become so dangerous that the North needed to shift its military strategy to one of “pre-emptive attack”. Such bellicose rhetoric is almost routine for North Korea at times of elevated tensions. While the North is known to have a small stockpile of nuclear warheads, experts are divided about its ability to mount them on a working missile delivery system.
In a clear threat to neighbouring South Korea, Kim said the new rocket launcher should be “promptly deployed” along with other newly developed weaponry. “At an extreme time when the Americans… are urging war and disaster on other countries and people, the only way to defend our sovereignty and right to live is to bolster our nuclear capability,” Kim said.
South Korea will soon announce its own new tougher and unprecedented sanctions on North Korea, an official said on Sunday, a move set to further heighten tensions as Seoul and Washington begin their largest-ever joint military exercise. The Seoul official did not elaborate on the South’s separate sanctions. Yonhap news agency said they would include banning any ships which have previously docked in the North from South Korean ports.
A group of North Korean individuals and organisations believed involved in weapons development will also be added to a blacklist. In February, in an unprecedentedly tough move, the South announced the total shutdown of a jointly-run industrial park in North Korea, saying Pyongyang had been using it to fund its nuclear weapons programs.
Meanwhile, on Monday South Korea and its close ally the US begin their annual Key Resolve/Foal Eagle military drill. This year’s will be the largest-ever, with the US reportedly sending more than 15,000 troops — four times as many as last year — to the Key Resolve drill, which is largely a computer-simulated exercise.
Foal Eagle — a field exercise also involving US strategic assets including a naval fleet led by an aircraft carrier and nuclear-powered submarines — is also expected to be far bigger than before. Seoul says the drills, which continue through April 30, are defensive in nature but Pyongyang has habitually slammed them as a preparation for war. Last month it warned it would attack the South and the US mainland in case of any armed provocation during the exercise. South Korea’s conservative president Park Geun-Hye has vowed “stern punishment” in case of any such response.