North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the East Sea from Sunan, Pyongyang, on Sunday, which flew about 300 kilometers at a maximum altitude of 620 kilometers. This is the eighth launch since the start of the year, four weeks after the previous launch on Jan. 30.
North Korea, which had refrained from making provocations during the Beijing Winter Olympics, has again conducted a missile test amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine and with only 10 days to go before the South Korean presidential election scheduled on March 9. South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae called a meeting of the National Security Council and called the missile test “deeply worrisome and regrettable.”
North Korea’s resumption of missile testing clearly shows its opportunistic attitude to take advantage of the looming threat of a new cold war between the United States and China-Russia. In January, when Russia was building a military force along the Ukrainian border, North Korea carried out seven missile tests, which were followed by a pause during the Beijing Winter Olympics.
With the Russian aggression against Ukraine that took place right after the Beijing Winter Olympics ended, North Korea resumed missile tests as if it had been waiting for the move by Russia. Earlier, the North Korean Foreign Affairs Ministry had released a statement that accused the United States of being the “root cause of the Ukrainian crisis” and for its “high-handedness and arbitrariness.”
In the midst of a presidential campaign and in advance of a change in administration in South Korea, provocations by North Korea are likely to be intensified in severity until April 15, the 110th anniversary of the birth of the nation’s founding father Kim Il Sung. North Korea attempts to take advantage of the situation where, after Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution, the UN Security Council has been effectively rendered powerless, by freely continuing day-to-day provocations and have them accepted as normal defense activities. On top of that, North Korea could cross the red line by firing ICBM or conducting nuclear weapons tests.
North Korea’s adventurism that exploits the emergence of a new cold war is a long-odds bet, which is equivalent to digging its own grave. However distracted the U.S. may be by a war in Europe, the U.S. will not turn a blind eye to North Korea’s nuclear provocations that pose a threat to the mainland U.S. Left with hardly any choices, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is misjudging the possibility that it could find a way out, as a member of dictatorial regimes led by China and Russia. However, by so doing, Pyongyang is only posing itself as a pawn of the chess played by China and Russia. Contrary to its calculations, North Korea would be used as a scapegoat sacrificed first when China and Russia are forced into a corner.