Early Monday morning, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, in what Japan’s leader described as “an extremely dangerous action.” Military authorities in South Korea, Japan, and the United States all confirmed the launch of the projectiles, which traveled almost 620 miles into the Sea of Japan. Three landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, 200 nautical miles from the country’s coastline, CNN reported.
“This is a direct challenge to the international community and a grave violation,” Hwang Kyo-ahn, South Korea’s acting president, told the South Korean National Security Council. “Having seen the brutality of North Korea from Kim Jong Nam, I’d say the consequences of the Kim Jong Un regime having nuclear weapons will be horrible.”
Hwang was referring to the killing of the North Korean leader’s estranged half brother in Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur airport in February. In a terrifying twist, the North Korean dictator’s agents used VX nerve toxin in a very public place.
In an address to the Japanese Parliament Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said the launch was a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions. Experts said the move was likely a reaction to joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, which Pyongyang reportedly views as the preparations for an invasion. Why this would motivate a strike near Japan, however, remains unexplained.
Five extended-range SCUD missiles were involved in the launch, but one of them failed while the other four landed in the sea. This follows Kim Jong Un’s promise of an ICMB test on the first day of 2017, and a launch of missiles in September.
— Web Sorber (@WebSorber) March 6, 2017
The U.S. State Department said it remained “prepared to use the full range of capabilities at our disposal against this growing threat.”
“The DPRK’s provocations only serve to increase the international community’s resolve to counter the DPRK’s prohibited weapons of mass destruction programs,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.
Geng Shuang, spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the People’s Republic of China opposed North Korea’s launch. Nevertheless, Shuang also added, “China has also noted that the US and South Korea are holding large-scale military exercises targeting North Korea.” Rather than condemning North Korea unilaterally, he urged concern on both sides.
“Under current circumstances, all relevant sides should exercise restraint, and avoid actions that would provoke each other and escalate tensions,” Shuang said.
While this sounds neatly balanced, some might categorize Shuang’s remarks as a subtle way of providing North Korea leeway and legitimacy.
“I think North Korea’s testing Trump and testing the West,” M. Zuhdi Jasser, a former member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), told PJ Media. Referring to the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, Jasser compared North Korea’s willingness to use weapons of mass destruction in another country to Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad’s use of such weapons against his own people.
“There’s nothing that unhinges evil, genocidal dictators more than knowing they have the support of a major superpower or a near quasi-superpower, so if you look at Assad, he used chemical weapons initially once or twice in a small town in Damascus and then realized no one was going to do anything about it,” Jasser said. “Then, all of a sudden, you have Russia not only continue supporting but provide him cover. And he’s since used it 30 times.”
When it comes to North Korea, “you had the deployment of a weapon of mass destruction, which is VX nerve gas, by the North Korean regime in Malaysia — in an airport in Malaysia!” Jasser explained. “Would they do that unless they were unhinged, unless they knew they had the support of a major superpower behind them?”
M. Zuhdi Jasser on Syria: "Putin is doing with Assad what China did for North Korea."
Posted by PJ Media on Saturday, February 25, 2017