North Korean Missile Launch

In early October 2019, North Korea confirmed that it had test-fired a new ballistic missile. This missile, which can be launched from a submarine, can carry a nuclear weapon. This new submarine capability gives North Korea the power to launch missiles from outside of their borders. This poses a great threat to countries that are at odds with North Korea, including the United States.

This missile that launched on October 2 flew about 280 miles and reached an altitude of 565 miles according to South Korean officials. It landed in the Sea of Japan, specifically in an exclusive economic zone. Many experts have warned that the missile may possess a longer range than the one demonstrated in the test launch.

North Korea’s new submarine capabilities dramatically change the countries missile potential. The estimated range of this new missile is 1,200 miles, putting South Korea and Japan within range. The extended range is only one part of the issue; the ability to launch from a submarine makes the missiles harder to detect, allowing them to get closer to targets before those on the ground can be warned.

What does this mean for global security? First, it is a dangerous threat to Eastern Asia. With mainland Japan and South Korea in easy range, there is the greater potential for conflict due to security threats. North Korea now has the ability to strike any country within 1,200 miles of their mainland, along with the ability to strike from anywhere in the ocean through submarines.

This will also affect preliminary nuclear talks between North Korea and the U.S. The talks were tentatively planned for the first week of October but were pushed back after the launch. The state department responded to the launch by calling Pyongyang to “refrain from provocations” and to “remain engaged in substantive and sustained negotiations.”

Further missile tests have the potential to end nuclear talks that are aimed towards bringing denuclearization. The end of these talks would be dangerous for the United States and its allies by reasserting tensions between the two sides.

Looking into the future, North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs are progressing very quickly. The best thing for global security is for nuclear talks to continue; these talks might be one of the few things holding North Korea back from reaching full nuclearization.

 – Sarah Swasey ’20

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