North Korea’s Close Ties with Russia After Missile Launch
North Korea continues to threaten with a series of provocations and verbal attacks after recently defining the inter-Korean relationship as ‘hostile two states.’ On the 15th, North Korea claimed that it had “successfully conducted a test launch of a medium-range solid-fuel ballistic missile (IRBM) equipped with a hypersonic maneuverable warhead on the afternoon of the 14th.” This is the fourth test of a hypersonic missile, and this time, they used solid fuel to launch an IRBM. North Korea has already completed test launches of short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) using solid fuel.
The range of North Korea’s IRBM is estimated to be between 1864 and 3417 miles, which means it can target Okinawa, Japan, approximately 870 miles away from Pyongyang, and Guam, approximately 2175 miles away. The intention behind the development of the IRBM is believed to be to block the entry of U.S. reinforcement forces in the event of a crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Concerns have been raised that it would not be easy to detect and intercept with the radars of South Korea, the U.S., and Japan because it can fly at a speed 5 to 10 times faster than the speed of sound, and it is equipped with auxiliary wings on the warhead for evasive maneuvers. Unlike liquid fuel that is exposed just before launch, the use of solid fuel allows for covert and swift surprise launches.
Amid these developments, North Korean Foreign Minister Choi Sun-hee visited Russia on the same day for a meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister. Attention is focused on whether additional North Korea-Russia arms deals will take place, and whether a specific schedule for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to North Korea will be discussed. The government should further develop the three-axis system to respond to North Korea’s various missile launch provocations, including hypersonic missiles. Also, diplomatic cooperation should be sought and pressure applied to Russia to ensure that cooperation between North Korea and Russia does not exceed a dangerous level. North Korea, at the Supreme People’s Assembly, held on the same day, newly defined the inter-Korean relationship as a ‘warring country’ and ‘main enemy,’ and there is a possibility that the level of provocation will increase ahead of the general election in April. To fundamentally block North Korea’s provocations, we must thoroughly check our response posture. In particular, we must repeatedly conduct actual combat training during peacetime to be able to respond immediately to North Korea’s surprise provocations. While North Korea has been outwardly engaging in dialogue, it has been continuously attempting to advance its nuclear and missile capabilities behind the scenes. We must realize that we can maintain peace only by building overwhelming strength and being fully prepared.
By. Sharon Lee