Oct 9, 2022
North Korea’s seventh missile launch in recent days Transcript
North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea on 10/08/22, making it the seventh such launch by Pyongyang in recent days. Read the transcript here.
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Eric Njoka: (00:00)
Amidst simmering tensions in the region, North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea today, making it the seventh such launch by Pyongyang in recent days. The launches have raised fears of North Korea inching closer towards nuclear testing. The launches that come days after US led joint military exercises in the region have raised an alarm in South Korea, Japan, and the United States. Now, according to Japanese authorities, the two missiles covered a range of 350 kilometers and fell outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Japan says that they are looking into the type of missiles fired at around 1:47 AM local time, with the second one following some six minutes later. The possibilities of a submarine launched ballistic missiles are too being taken into consideration.
Eric Njoka: (00:50)
The South Korean military views the latest missile launches by its neighbor as serious provocation that harms peace, so believes that the missiles were launched from the Munchon city located on the east coast of North Korea. South Korea says that the uptick in North Korea’s missile launches could signal that it is closer than ever to resuming nuclear testing for the first time since 2017, with preparations observed at its test site for months now.
Eric Njoka: (01:20)
The US Military says it is closely consulting with allies and partners calling the launch as a destabilizing impact on the North Korean Nuclear Arms and Ballistic Missile programs. The US reiterated its commitment to protect Japan and South Korea.
Eric Njoka: (01:35)
On Friday, Washington announced new sanctions on North Korea after Pyongyang test fired a ballistic missile farther than ever before on Tuesday, sending it soaring over Japan for the first time in five years, and prompting a warning for residents to take cover. On the other hand, North Korea, which has pursued missile and nuclear tests in defiance of the United Nations’ sanctions said on Saturday that its missile tests are for self-defense against direct US military threats and had not harmed the safety of neighboring countries and regions.
Eric Njoka: (02:15)
And to talk more about this latest move by North Korea is Col David B Des Roches, a defense expert who is joining us from Maryland, United States of America. David, welcome to the program.
David B: (02:29)
Eric Njoka: (02:30)
What’s your view on North Korea’s firing of the ballistic missiles? Some say it is a way to provoke tensions in the region.
David B: (02:38)
Yeah, that seems to be always in the background with North Korea. Another possibility is that North Korea’s economy has tanked. And generally, what they try to do is get the attention of the West in general, the United States in particular, in order to enter into new rounds of negotiations that will lead to concessions, most notably with other people feeding North Korea’s population.
David B: (03:04)
I think that the leadership of North Korea seems to have calculated that the attention of the United States has diverted elsewhere, that it won’t have the ability to respond militarily and therefore, this is a good time to try to extract maximum concessions. But all of this has to be viewed with the idea that North Korea is very opaque. We’re not exactly sure what their motivations are, but these seem to fit in with the patterns in the past.
Eric Njoka: (03:30)
Why do you think they’re targeting Japan?
David B: (03:34)
Well, Japan’s a very rich country, a very close country. Their most recent missile launches have been in the direction of Japan, but I think they want to get the Japanese attention as well, because if you want to get a hold of the United States… we’re very far away, but Japan’s very close and Japan is very influential in the United States. The United States has treaty obligations to defend Japan, so it makes sense for the North Koreans to try to exert pain on the Japanese if they really want to get the US’ attention.
Eric Njoka: (04:07)
David, do you think North Korea could be inching closer towards nuclear testing, and what will be the ramifications of that?
David B: (04:17)
Well, they have already tested a nuclear weapon. We know that. The question is whether they can get a nuclear weapon small enough to put on one of these missiles that can be reasonably deployed. If they can, particularly if they can employ a nuclear weapon on a submarine, then that means potentially they have the ability to strike a much broader region of the world to possibly include the west coast of the United States. That is very, very, very significant. And if that happens, it’s possible that Korea may inch to the top of the security concern, displacing Russia and Ukraine.
Eric Njoka: (04:54)
David, lastly, the United States, South Korea, and even Japan have condemned these tests. What do you think they should do next?
David B: (05:05)
Yeah, that’s a good question. It’s really, really hard to see how North Korea can be punished in a non-military way because they’re pretty much sanctioned as much as they can be sanctioned. I think that the world powers, the idea of the United Nations taking action, they would’ve done it already if they could’ve. I think that quite frankly, they have to bolster defenses. I think that the employment of the THAAD air defense system in Japan, which Japan had rejected on environmental grounds, I think that needs to be reconsidered. And I think that the Japanese and the Koreans both have to start to invest in a effective anti-ballistic missile defense. But at the same time, the United States may need to look at the possibility of developing, once again, a short range and theater range ballistic missiles.
Eric Njoka: (06:02)
David, we have to end it there. Thank you very much for giving us time today.
David B: (06:06)
It’s an honor. Eric,
Eric Njoka: (06:08)
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