North Korea appears to be weighing the timing to test a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) as part of the aggression it threatened to stage last month, a think tank that is part of the South’s Ministry of National Defence said on Wednesday.
The Korea Institute for Defence Analyses said in a report: “With an SLBM launch, Pyongyang could deliver strongest shockwaves it intends to the international community while shunning the risk of being seen as defying the UN Security Council resolutions.”
The resolutions denouncing the North’s weapons of mass destruction programme so far have not specifically touched on SLBMs, it explained.
It said the North would rely on a method attractive enough to lure the attention of the US to the stalled nuclear talks but would be careful not to go about stretching that method to the extreme to abort the talks altogether.
The North could put off provocation until after the US presidential election in November if the Sino-US feud does not grow into a full-on collision, it said.
Pyongyang, it said, thinks this greatly caters to its interest because a distracted Washington could not hit back at a provoking Pyongyang as forcefully as it would.
Another North Korean analyst, however, said Pyongyang would forge ahead with a missile launch before November’s election.
“Leader Kim would prefer sealing a nuclear deal with a bragging [US President Donald] Trump than with his Democratic rival since Democrats are pickier over decommissioning the nuclear arsenal,” said Park Won-gon, an international studies professor at Handong University, adding that provocation would come measured so as not to hamper Trump’s re-election bid.
Park said he was betting on the North’s SLBM or satellite launch aimed to earn sanctions relief from the Trump administration, which would find it increasingly harder to slam Pyongyang upon provocation because that opens the door to disputing the two years of progress that Washington has touted so far.
Park advised the Moon administration to prepare to respond to a real military strike and not a show of force by Pyongyang, adding that he should make the joint defence readiness between Seoul and Washington clear and be ready to deploy strategic military assets upon provocation.
Meanwhile, the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Wednesday that leader Kim Jong-un had visited a mausoleum at Pyongyang’s Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to mark the anniversary of the death of his grandfather, the regime’s founding leader Kim Il-sung.
The 36-year-old Kim sparked speculation over his health when he missed his grandfather’s birthday in April, which is marked with a major holiday in the hermit kingdom.
Kim was shown accompanied by his sister Kim Yo-jong and key party members, in a clear sign to discredit mushrooming speculation over his health.
THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK