Call me obsessed, but the rising tension on the Korean Peninsula is the one subject (beyond my PhD and World Economic Forum project work of course) that really grabs my attention. I see the disruptive power of North Korea as an under-estimated, under-anticipated issue that has the potential to shift global perspectives on Asian security overnight.
The latest escalation following North Korea’s successful missile test on Wednesday 12 December is a planned (and now impending) nuclear test, ostensibly in response to UN Security Council Resolution 2087. This is concerning beyond the simple provocation of a controlled nuclear explosion, the demonstration of available fissile material and a nose-thumbing at the UN; the implication is that the regime is testing nuclear warheads which, combined with long-range missile technology, significantly raise the security stakes in the region.
The relevant piece from the statement by North Korea’s National Defence Commission (NDC) issued in late January reads:
We do not hide that a variety of satellites and long-range rockets which will be launched by the DPRK one after another and a nuclear test of higher level which will be carried out by it in the upcoming all-out action, a new phase of the anti-U.S. struggle that has lasted century after century, will target against the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people.
“Sanctions” mean a war and a declaration of war against us.
We have already declared that “we would react to provocation with immediate retaliatory blows and a war of aggression with a great war of justice for national reunification.”
All our service personnel and people will never allow the reckless confrontation moves of the group.
Those who dare stand in the way of our just cause will never be able to escape deadly retaliatory blows.
So, yeah. Back to those scenarios about the day after a truly region-shaking encounter between North Korea and one of its many enemies…
PS. Thanks to the Peterson Institute’s “Witness to Transformation” blog for keeping me up to date on what’s happening and for supplying the links to most of this material.