North Korea: Joe Biden addresses missile test
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Following US and South Korea joint military exercises earlier this month, Kim Yo-jong warned the US to “refrain from causing a stink” if it wants to “sleep in peace”. She added: “War drills and hostility can never go with dialogue and cooperation.” Kim Jong-un’s younger sister has made a name for herself as a hostile communicator as she becomes a more prominent figure in Pyongyang’s tyrannical regime. Last week, North Korea sparked more concerns after it launched what is described as “a new-type tactical guided projectile”.
It was the country’s first ballistic launch in almost a year and the first since Joe Biden became US President.
Mr Biden has said the US will “respond accordingly” while Japan and South Korea condemned the tests.
For years, North Korea’s nuclear missile programme has been the subject of speculation and grave concern.
In a 2016 Sky documentary ‘North Korea: Credible threat?’ – nuclear policy analyst Andrea Berger discussed the threat posed by the nation’s missiles.
She said: “In the last five years under Kim Jong-un we’ve really seen that programme advance in pretty much every direction, we’ve seen him do increasingly active nuclear missile testing, we’ve seen him develop a programme to put nuclear weapons on submarines at sea.
“This is a threat that is manifesting itself in many different ways and for most looking on it’s an extreme concern.
“Every indication is that time is really not on the side of US and its allies, North Korea is developing its capabilities so quickly and threatening to conduct strikes on its adversaries on a daily basis.”
North Korea’s state media reported yet more threats from Kim Jong-un and his sister in January, warning the country will continue to develop its weapons.
It said: “We must develop tactical nuclear weapons that can be applied in different means in the modern war depending on the purpose of operational missions and targets, and continue to push ahead with the production of super-large nuclear warheads.”
The country carried out just one missile test in 2020, having carried out 10 in 2019.
This may be due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has put further strain on North Korea’s economy, already reeling from heavy US sanctions.
Despite this, satellite images released this week show renewed activity at a North Korean nuclear facility, suggesting that Kim’s regime is preparing to start or has already started reprocessing plutonium for nuclear weapons, experts say.
The commercial satellite photos show steam or smoke rising from a small building at the Yongbyon Radiochemistry Laboratory and from an adjacent thermal plant. The lab reprocesses spent fuel rods to extract plutonium for nuclear bombs.
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Victor Cha, Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the two rounds of missile tests in recent weeks are a political manoeuvre by Pyongyang to challenge President Biden’s administration and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
He added: “It is a series of escalations. I think it’s pretty calculated. They’re ratcheting up pressure as they had done to President Trump and to President Obama.”
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