Does Possession of ICBM Technology by North Korea threaten the US?

On December 8, 2019 North Korea announced that a very important test was successfully completed on 7 December 2019. Again, on December 13 another test was reportedly accomplished with success. These tests might have been of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) engine to improve ICBM technology which could potentially be capable of reaching the US mainland.[1]

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un put the deadline of nuclear negotiations with the US at the end of 2019. Kim has pressed the Trump administration to make significant concessions. US president Trump continuously stresses North Korea’s denuclearization and warns Kim to otherwise lose everything.

North Korean ICBM is dangerous but not really threatens the US yet. In any event if North Korea tried to attack the US homeland, the US would attack North Korea beforehand to defend the country. Sanctions against North Korea have remained and weaken the country although some goods are illegally entering it. North Korea has also illegally obtained foreign currencies by such devices as cyberattacks. However, despite these efforts the frustration of military people is allegedly increasing and, therefore, Kim Jong-un may have to show some successful results to hold his power. Additionally, there is a revolutionary organization named ‘Free Korea’ against the Kim Family regime. In February 2019 the North Korean embassy in Spain was burgled and hard disks and mobile phones were stolen. Rumor has it that there have been attempts to assassinate Kim Jong-un. Despite these circumstances, the North Korean leader Kim put a deadline to the nuclear negotiations with the US. Fixing the end date of negotiations in this case could however be to Kim’s disadvantage, not to Trump’s. Kim’s this strategy could indicate his urgent and rather desperate situation. It is also possible that North Korea doubts the reelection of Trump in the coming year. President Trump is the first US president who met a North Korean leader and directly discussed the denuclearization of North Korea. Should Trump find some advantages in the use of negotiations with North Korea for advancing his re-election in the upcoming presidential elections, and, likewise, North Korea desires that only the Trump administration negotiates, both sides’ interests converge. In this case, some overtures could be made, but lifting even parts of the sanctions seems inconceivable.

On 23 November 2019, South Korea cancelled its abandonment of the agreement “General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)” between the US, Japan and South Korea just right before the expiry date, explaining that the abandonment is temporarily postponed. A defense agreement between China and South Korea was reported on November 17, 2019. They are going to develop their security ties.[2]

In the light of China’s direct and indirect support for North Korea and also its influence on South Korea as well as South Korea’s getting closer to China, US negotiations with North Korea might be possible, but not because of North Koreas provocations with “very important tests”. Furthermore, the importance of North Korea for the Trump administration would not be high compared to domestic political issues. Trade and security conflicts with China can be the most essential foreign and domestic political interests for America. The matter of North Korea could merely be used to negotiate the current conflicts between the US and China.

[1] The Guardian: North Korea claims successful ‘crucial test’ at long-range rocket site, December 14, 2019.

[2] The Telegraph: China signs defence agreement with South Korea as US angers Seoul with demand for $5bn troop payment, November 18, 2019.

Related Posts: