By Paula Hancocks and Ben Westcott, CNN | Updated 5:36 AM ET, Mon March 6, 2017
(CNN) North Korea fired four ballistic missiles in the early hours of Monday morning, in what Japan’s leader described as “an extremely dangerous action.”
Military authorities in South Korea, Japan and the United States all confirmed the launch of four projectiles, which traveled almost 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) towards the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea. One US official said they were intermediate range missiles.
Three landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, which extends 200 nautical miles from its coastline according to international maritime law.
The launch underscored the rapid evolution of North Korea’s missile program, which experts say has begun moving at a faster rate to develop and deploy missiles.
Speaking to the Japanese Parliament Monday, Abe said the launch was a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
There’s more at the original, which claims that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea launched the missiles in response to joint Republic of Korea/ United States military exercises, which the DPRK regards as practice for an invasion. Given that the armistice which ended the active phase of the Korean War¹ was signed 64 years ago, that’s a whole lot of practice for something which hasn’t happened yet.
From The Washington Post:
By Simon Denyer | February 18, 2017
BEIJING — China will suspend all imports of coal from North Korea until the end of the year, the Commerce Ministry announced Saturday, in a surprise move that would cut off a major financial lifeline for Pyongyang and significantly enhance the effectiveness of U.N. sanctions.
Coal is North Korea’s largest export item, and also China’s greatest point of leverage over the regime.
The ministry said the ban would come into force Sunday and be effective until Dec. 31.
China said the move was designed to implement November’s United Nations Security Council resolution that tightened sanctions against the regime in the wake of its last nuclear test.
But experts said the move also reflected Beijing’s deep frustration with North Korea over its recent missile test and the assassination of Kim Jong Un’s half brother in Malaysia.
Kim Jong Nam had been hosted and protected by China for many years, and his murder, if proved to be conducted on Pyongyang’s orders, would be seen as a direct affront to Beijing, experts said.
There’s more at the original.
These two stories are very much linked, because China still exports to the DPRK. Bloomberg noted that 85% of North Korea’s foreign trade is with China, and that “(n)ever has the trade composition been so lopsided in China’s direction.”
And thus, I find it a good thing that North Korea just wasted four ballistic missiles! The Communist Korean economy is in shambles, and has been for decades now; the military get priority for everything, but eventually, everything has to be paid, and Kim Jong-un will now have less money to pay for things. Those four ballistic missiles cost the DPRK valuable productive capacity, and with the suspension of anthracite coal production for China, there is now less production with which to pay to build new ballistic missiles. Supreme Leader Kim might not care that his non-military subjects have been living on grass and acorns, but eventually the soldiers have to be fed, housed and clothed, and those expenses take away from the ability to build more missiles. Expending four of the ones the DPRK already had in a show of pique — and pique is the usual reason for nuclear and ballistic missile tests in that country — means that four fewer remain for use against other countries.
Weapons tests are really the only way that Kim Jong-un can get anybody outside of his country to pay attention to him, unless he manages to find more brothers to have assassinated. When he wants to stir the pot, he has something fired off or blown up, and the more civilized countries quite naturally condemn his actions, but nothing really changes. When children have temper tantrums, the wiser course is to ignore them, unless they start causing actual damage. Right now, wasting missiles into the water doesn’t hurt anybody.
¹ – My mother was in the Women’s Army Corps, serving in General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters in Tokyo, and one of her jobs was writing those very unfortunate letters to the families of soldiers killed in the war. She told me that she was to use the phrases “police action” or “Korean conflict,” but, because it was not a declared war under the Constitution, she could not use the word “war” in those letters.
Cross-posted on The First Street Journal.