North Korean Missiles Cause Geopolitical Tensions

Tensions are flaring up on the Korean peninsula again as North Korea provokes the U.S. by aggressively pursuing the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, also known as ICBM technology. Both countries have begun a series of actions designed to deter each other from making further provocations.

As the New York Times has reported, a photo from March 2016 indicates that North Korea is actively seeking to miniaturize its nuclear warheads. The nuclear warhead, which analysts have dubbed the “disco ball,” is a light nuclear device that can yield an explosion comparable to those seen in Hiroshima or Nagasaki during World War II. Since September, analysts anticipate that North Korea will attempt to pair the “disco ball” with improved rocket systems. As the New York Times reports, once this synthesis can be accomplished Kim Jong-un can then credibly claim the range to strike an American city. 

Recently, North Korea has been conducting a number of test launches designed to improve the range of its missiles. The tests have incited international ire and have promoted anxiety throughout East Asia. North Korea has justified the recent tests as self-defensive.  The tests coincide with the birth anniversary of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-Sung. The day of sun, as it is known in the country, is a national holiday celebrated on April 15 since the late 1960s.

As the United States’ “strategic patience has ended,” tensions in the region have flared. According to CNN, under the Trump administration’s orders the U.S. has dispatched the USS Carl Vinson to the Sea of Japan, but has encountered several difficulties due to miscommunications.

Recently, the U.S. has deployed a ground-based multilayered missile defense shield to South Korea, THAAD, or the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, was dispatched to the Korean peninsula early March 2017 to serve as a “defensive measure” against North Korea, according to the Washington Post. 

In recent remarks, the Trump administration has acerbically condemned North Korea's tests and the escalation of events. As the Wall Street Journal has reported, President Trump has declared that the U.S. will consider all prohibitive measures to pacify the region, a move that indicates unilateral action.

Rising tensions on the peninsula have drawn the interests of the People’s Republic of China, who is a close ally of North Korea and a strategic partner of the United States. As the New York Times reports, the People’s Republic of China has aided North Korea in the past through military means, but the Cold War bonds have continued to fracture as North Korea continues to develop its nuclear capabilities.  

Though spokespersons from the People’s Republic of China’s Foreign Ministry had stated opposition against, “words or actions that would escalate rivalry and tension,” as CNN has reported, China has praised the United States for utilizing all means to resolve the North Korean nuclear issues.

Responding to the developments in East Asia, Brandon Smith, senior, commented, “It is business as usual.”

Krupa Lanka, freshman, said, “Everything that Trump is doing is a power move. He wants to prove that he is superior instead of finding a way to make the world better.”