- Prior to the North Korean missile, Japan had just tested its M142 High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System.
- this test was related to operation Northern Viper (NV17), a US-Japan military drill exercise which took place on Hokkaido from 10-28 of August. US Marines and Japanese ground troops were involved, as well as F-16 fighters, MV-22 Osprey aircraft and military helicopters.
- Every year the USA also conducts something called the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian war games. Lasting 10 days, it involves many thousands of troops from South Korean and the USA, as well as some from Australia, and serves as a show of force and rehearsal for war with North Korea. North Korean leadership has repeatedly objected to these drills. (Australia hosts US military bases, as well as US troops, aircraft and warships).
- yesterday, Ja Song Nam, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN asked the UN Security Council for urgent talks on these military exercises. He said they were like “fuel to [an] open fire” and he pointed out that the exercises were “a provocative and aggressive joint military exercise at this critical moment of the Korean Peninsula, where the situation is just like a time bomb.”
- US trade sanctions have hit North Korea at a time when their harvest has been poor and food supplies are low. The population is suffering.
On the Fourth of July, North Korea marked a milestone by firing an intercontinental ballistic missile that soared high into space before turning around and landing in the sea near Japan. The North’s state media said the missile, Hwasong-14, flew 580 miles, reaching an altitude of 1,741 miles, and flew for nearly 40 minutes.
The successful test of a missile of this kind, which could theoretically put Alaska within its range, is something that President Trump said earlier this year “would never happen.” Now that analysts — including those in the U.S. military — confirm it did, the world is grappling with what to do next.
“Testing an ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region and the world,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement Tuesday night. “Global action is required to stop a global threat.”
In the short term, the 15 members of the U.N. Security Council will meet Wednesday. This is the body that has imposed numerous sanctions packages on North Korea, which have proven ineffective in getting North Korea to change its behavior.