North Korea Continues Threats as the World deals with Deadly Pandemic
While reports surface about the possible death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and speculation abounds about what his death might mean for the future of the North Korean regime, the unstable communist country with nuclear capabilities poses a threat to the United States. North Korea has continued to shirk U.N. sanctions and continues to advance their offensive weapons and a change of leadership is no guarantee the country will not continue upon its same hostile trajectory.
A recent U.N. report reveals North Korea, “did not halt its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, which it continued to enhance, in violation of Security Council resolutions.” Despite the diplomatic posture and overtures of President Trump,
by the end of 2019, North Korea had fired at least 25 ballistic missiles in 13 launches, including tests of new short-range and submarine-launched ballistic missiles. It also continued to develop infrastructure for the expansion of its nuclear weapons and domestic missile industry and to engage in a series of U.N.-banned trade deals that have previously been used to fund its illicit military operations, according to the report.
At the end of 2019, Kim Jong Un announced that he was no longer obligated to his own nuclear test moratorium. According to the New York Times, “Kim Jong-un, said his country no longer felt bound by its self-imposed moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, its official media reported” and that “the world would witness a new strategic weapon ‘in the near future.’” Further he promised that North Korea “will shift to a shocking actual action” that will make the United States “pay for the pains sustained by our people,” the North Korean news agency said.
Whether or not Kim is dead or alive, the reality of North Korea’s weapons program must be taken seriously.
Although the congressional schedule has changed and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) markup will probably be pushed past May, addressing and strengthening the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) and missile defense capabilities should be a priority.
The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System provides the capability to engage and destroy limited intermediate- and long-range ballistic missile threats in space to protect the United States homeland.
There has been some push back about the program from Pentagon bureaucrats. Dr. Michael Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, has decided to issue a stop-work order to on the development of the Redesigned Kill Vehicle — or RKV. The RKVs are designed to destroy targets in high-speed collisions after separating from a booster rocket.
The cancellation is troubling. “I am deeply concerned about the announcement to cancel the Redesigned Kill Vehicle program. Given the continued evolution of advanced adversaries’ missile capabilities and still uncertain and unpredictable nature of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, we cannot afford to wait possibly a decade for a new and still conceptual kill vehicle,” said Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK). “I plan to dig deep into the assumptions made and details of the decision-making undertaken that led to what I hope is not this short-sighted decision.”
With the uncertainty surrounding the leadership of North Korea, it’s more important than ever to send a message the United States takes the threat of nuclear missiles seriously, regardless of who is control. We should not be stopping programs designed to keep the homeland safe.