As this publication reported earlier today, North Korea launched one short-range ballistic missile at approximately 1300 EST. By 1500, the South Koreans and Japanese had confirmed that a single missile was launched from the Yongseong area of Pyongyang, which fell outside of the Japanese EEZ. The South Korean Joint Chiefs confirmed that the missile flew about 400km.
However, the most interesting developments have been in the last hour after South Korean media began reporting on the 12th Political Bureau meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea under the premise of Kim Jong Un. At that meeting, in conjunction with today’s missile launch, the North Korean dictator made several claims and threats against the United States and its Pacific allies.
First, the North Korean dictator claimed that the projectile was launched from a “super-large multiple rocket launcher” as part of a “performance test”. Kim Jong Un then described this rocket launcher as an offensive weapon that puts all of South Korea within tactical nuclear weapons range. He then called for an all-out effort to produce nuclear weapons to “overwhelm” the U.S. and South Korea. He inferred a new type of ICBM that may include solid propellant variants among these new weapons. He also said that North Korea will “exponentially” increase its nuclear warheads in its stockpile and launch military satellites during 2023.
Kim Jong Un finished his statement by declaring that South Korea is “a clear enemy,” which raises the need to produce more tactical nuclear weapons.
This rhetoric sets a clear expectation that 2023 will not be a claiming year for the Korean Peninsula as the Hermit Kingdom looks to increase its stockpile of offensive nuclear weapons. As long as the People’s Republic of China runs diplomatic cover for North Korea at the UN Security Council and openly trades with them, there is little incentive for diplomacy with South Korea and the United States.