TOKYO - North Korea put on a huge military spectacle Saturday to celebrate its founder’s birthday, parading its series of new and technologically advanced missiles in front of Kim Jong Un, and in a defiant show of force in front of the world.
North Korea did not, however, carry out another nuclear test or ballistic missile launch, against widespread speculation that it would seek to celebrate Kim Il Sung’s 105th birthday with a bang.
April 15 is the most important day in the North Korean calendar, and Kim Jong Un has celebrated his grandfather’s birthday with great fanfare as a way to boost his own legitimacy as the successor to the communist dynasty.
North Korea presented two of its newest model missiles at the parade in Kim Il Sung Square on Saturday, including the submarine-launched ballistic type it successfully fired last year and the land-based version it launched last month.
“And there were a lot of them,” said Melissa Hanham, an expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California. “The signal that they’re trying to send is that they are moving ahead with solid-fuel missiles.”
North Korea has been working on solid fuel - which, unlike liquid fuel, can be preloaded into missiles - as a way to fire missiles quickly to avoid prior detection by satellites.
Analysts were working to identify all the missiles that were shown off on Saturday, many of which appeared to have new paint jobs or be variants of known missiles.
One of the missiles looked similar to the KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile that North Korea had included in previous parades. This missile has a theoretical range of about 7,500 miles, which is enough to reach all of the United States from North Korea, said Joshua Pollack, editor of the Nonproliferation Review.
It also put two ICBM canisters, which protect solid-fueled missiles from the effects of the environment, on the trucks that had carried the ICBMs previously. One may have been a KN-14, another missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, although it has a slightly shorter range.
The trucks that carried the missile canisters were Chinese ones that have been exported to North Korea’s Forestry Ministry but have shown up in military parades like this one.
Saturday’s display was worrying, Hanham said.
“They have an indigenous tank system now, so they have more launchers, and they have solid fuel, which means they can launch a lot more of these things in quick succession without having to refuel,” she said.
The overall message to the world was that North Korea was pressing ahead with its missiles and making technological progress.
The parade took place amid stern warnings from the outside world and mounting fears about some kind of military action in the region. China has been particularly vocal in warning both sides to remain calm.
The United States has sent an aircraft carrier strike group to the Korean Peninsula region, and President Donald Trump has repeatedly tweeted that if China will not use its leverage to rein in North Korea, the United States will act.
Vice President Mike Pence arrives in Seoul on Sunday on the first leg of an Asia tour, and he will underscore Washington’s strong alliances with South Korea and Japan and its determination to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
Trump administration officials describe the situation as more dangerous than in the past, because of the progress North Korea has made in its nuclear weapon and missile programs and because of the hostility on both sides. But U.S. officials said no decision has been made about how to respond to any new test - nuclear or ballistic - by North Korea.
While officials do not rule out other actions, they also stress their desire to ensure that the situation does not escalate out of control. Pentagon officials denied recent media reports that the Trump administration is ready to launch a preemptive strike if North Korea appears to be about to conduct a nuclear test.
North Korea has a habit of fueling tensions to increase the rewards it might extract from the outside world if it desists. Previously, the North has agreed to return to denuclearization talks in return for aid or the easing of sanctions.
But with his approach, Trump is tearing up the old playbook of how to deal with North Korea, analysts said.
“This approach to North Korea is relatively new,” said James Kim of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. “The approach in the past has been very calculated.”
That has gone out the window with talk about military options, he said. “We always knew all these options were there, but no one was bold enough to go down that path. It’s a new approach.”
Right now, Trump has some cards to play, said Kim of the Asan Institute.
“He might say: ‘If you want one less battleship in the region, what are you going to give me?’ “ he said - a reversal of the usual situation, in which North Korea asks what it can get from its adversaries in return for changing its behavior.
The Washington Post’s Simon Denyer in Beijing contributed to this report.
최신 미사일 2기로 전력 과시한 북한
도쿄에서-북한이 김일성 생일 기념 행사에서 기술적으로 한단계 더 진보된 미사일을 과시했다.
그러나 많은 사람들이 추측했던 것처럼 핵실험을 하거나 미사일을 발사하지는 않았다. 김일성의 생일인 4월 15일은 북한에서 가장 중시하는 명절이다.
북한은 2개의 최신 미사일을 공개했다. 하나는 잠수함 발사 미사일, 다른 하나는 육지 발사 미사일이다.
제임스 마틴 핵무기 억제 센터 전문가 멜리사 한햄은 “이번 북한의 미사일 무기 과시는 그들이 고체연료 미사일 개발을 지속하겠다는 메시지이다”라고 말했다. 한햄은 현재의 상황을 우려의 눈으로 바라보고 있다.
미국은 한반도 지역에 항공모함을 배치했다. 트럼프 대통령은 중국이 보다 적극적으로 북한을 제제하지 않는다면 미국이 직접 나설 것이라고 수차례 트위터 메시지를 보낸 바 있다.
한편 마이크 펜스 부통령은 대한민국을 방문해 한미일 동맹을 강조했다. 미국은 아직 어떻게 북한의 새로운 핵실험과 미사일 실험에 대응할지 공식적인 결정을 내리지 않고 있다.
이제까지 북한은 한반도 긴장을 의도적으로 고조시킨 뒤 이를 이용해 경제원조와 같은 외교적인 이익을 얻는 데 이용해왔다. 과거에 북한은 비핵화 회담을 조건으로 경제 제제 완화를 요구한 바 있다.
아산 정책 연구소 제임스 김은 “새로운 방식이다. 과거에 미국은 계산된 행동만을 했다.” 라고 말했다. 트럼프가 군사행동 가능성을 언급하는 순간 그는 역대 미국 정부가 따라왔던 각본을 실질적으로 폐기한 셈이다. 자신만의 방식으로 북한을 상대하겠다는 것이다.
제임스 김은 이번에는 상황이 뒤바뀌었다고 했다. 트럼프는 이제 “우리가 전함 한대를 철수시켜준다면 북한 당신들은 무엇을 양보할 것인가?” 라 말할 수도 있게 된 셈이다. 이제 요구하는 쪽은 북한이 아니다.
워싱턴 포스트 사이먼 데니어가 베이징에서 도움. (번역: 이동근)
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