North Korea is continuing to launch missiles, as the US moves a carrier strike group into the neighborhood. On Tuesday, we reported on the launch over Japan, which prompted warnings to Japanese citizens:
North Korea, which according to Vice President Kamala Harris is our ally, apparently has grown weary of Ukraine and Russia getting all the international attention as of late. In response, Kim Jong-un and the Pyongyang party crew have upped their oversized fireworks ante over the past several days to remind everyone they’re still here. Thus far, the highlight is a missile launch on Tuesday, October 4th over Japan’s northeastern region before landing in the Pacific Ocean east of Japan. The launch prompted a warning from the Japanese Prime Minister’s office to citizens in the missile’s flight path, urging them to take cover.
Early on Thursday came word of additional launches. Per CNN:
South Korea’s National Security Council (NSC) held an emergency meeting on Thursday after North Korea launched two more short-range ballistic missiles, the sixth such launch in 12 days, the country’s Presidential Office said in a statement.
In response, to North Korea’s aggression, a US Navy aircraft carrier strike group is moving into the East Sea, off the Korean Peninsula.
The NSC warned that North Korea’s provocation will face a stronger response, as demonstrated by the redeployment of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group into the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, following Pyongyang’s launch on Tuesday of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that flew over Japan.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff also said on Wednesday that the US carrier strike group would be redeployed to the waterway, in what it characterized as a “very unusual” move meant “to demonstrate the resolute will of the SK-US alliance to respond decisively to any provocation or threat from North Korea.”
White House Spokesman John Kirby characterized Tuesday’s launch as “destabilizing.”
“We’re going to keep discussing and consulting with allies and partners about the best way forward,” he told MSNBC, noting recent military exercises with Japan and South Korea and reiterating Washington’s willingness to hold talks with Pyongyang without preconditions. “But this is obviously destabilizing.”
These latest launches can fairly be read as a test of Joe Biden.
Yes, this is part of North Korea’s dogged march toward building a viable arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles able to target any city on the U.S. mainland. But the nation’s extraordinary run of missile tests this year — its most ever — is also meant to grab the attention of an important, and decidedly distracted, audience of one: Joe Biden.
Washington has responded to the missiles with tough statements and weapons launches of its own in military drills with ally Seoul.
So far, however, there’s been little indication that the Biden administration will — or even can — pursue the messy, politically dangerous diplomacy needed to peacefully solve a problem that has bedeviled U.S. presidents for decades.