You know when your kids are in the backseat of the car, and one begins irritating the other by putting her finger right in front of his nose and says mockingly, “What? I’m not touching you!”
North Korea is that annoying sibling. Except with missiles.
The ultra-secretive, brutally repressive empire of North Korea chose the second day of the G20 summit to fire three Ballistic missiles, thought to be Rodong missiles with a range of 600 miles, into the Sea of Japan at around 0300 GMT. They landed 120 miles from the coast of Japan west of Hokkaido, thus, not quite touching Japan.
Hangzhou, where the G20 summit is taking place is about 800 miles south-west of the launch site in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.
The United States immediately condemned the action as reckless, saying that the unannounced launch was a risk to civil aviation and trade ships in the area.
North Korea wants to be sure everyone knows they’re armed.
North Korea often engages in launches and rocket tests when the eyes of the west are focused on the region, as they are with the summit going on relatively close by across the border in China. China is North Korea’s only ally.
“This is Pyongyang’s way of reminding everyone of their existence at a moment when all the parties are together, in a typically defiant, North Korean way,” John Delury, assistant professor at Yonsei University in South Korea, told CNN.
The launch comes just hours after Chinese President Xi Jinping officially told the South Korean President that China opposes the Unites States THADD missile system being deployed in South Korea.
THADD stands for Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, and the deployment of the system would counter missile and nuclear attacks from North Korea.
China is concerned that the radar system used in THADD will be able to track movements of its troops and artillery. They regard it as a remote control spy that will feed back information about its military capabilities. North Korea had also threatened a ‘physical response’ against the decision to base the system in South Korea:
North Korea has also spoken out against its deployment, threatening to nuke its neighbor and the US base in Guam, in protest at the South’s decision to deploy THAAD anti-missile systems.
In response, North Korea has continued to conduct new military technology tests, including a fourth nuclear test in January, in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions that were tightened in March. (source)
“North Korea’s missile launch is a provocation which clearly breaches UN Security Council resolutions,” a statement published by an unspecified JCS spokesperson said on Monday afternoon.
“We understand it as an armed protest to keep up military tensions on the Korean peninsula by showing off (North Korean) nuclear and missile capabilities, using the G20 summit and the North’s foundation day anniversary (September 9) as the opportunity,” the statement added. (source)
But when South Korea does it, North Korea gets mad.
North Korea has conducted 10 missile tests so far this year and Kim Jong-un was enraged when South Korea ran pre-emptive attack simulation drills back in March. The rhetoric and launches have increased since then. The drill involved the South Korean military as well as U.S forces and soldiers from nine other countries.
Each year South Korea and the United States conduct military exercises to test the readiness of the South Korean armed forces. U.S Navy Captain Jeff Davis said:
“…the drills are designed to make sure the United States can honor obligations to defend South Korea “against any potential aggression from the North. This is an exercise we do every year. It is 100 percent defensive in nature.” (source)