North Korea prepares to launch satellite: expert evaluates Pyongyang’s missile program

“North Korean engineers have prepared many interesting things”

North Korea conducted a series of four missile launches. One of them, the fourth, was called a failure in Seoul: the rocket is said to have exploded shortly after the launch. What these launches mean and how the United States can react to them, Konstantin Asmolov, an expert from the Valdai Club, a leading researcher at the Center for Korean Studies at the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told MK.

The news agency Seoul Yonhap, citing a source in the South Korean chiefs of staff, reported that in connection with the launches of North Korea, American troops in South Korea have increased their combat readiness.

As Valdai Club expert Konstantin Asmolov said, North Korea’s voluntary moratorium on launching intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) has ended. To therefore blame North Korea for having violated something is, to put it mildly, wrong.

Asmolov recalled that North Korea announced this moratorium as a gesture of goodwill at the end of 2017. They hoped that sanctions against North Korea would be eased in response. But this did not happen, so the resumption of the launches was a matter of time.

“After the Biden administration has begun active action, including in sanctions policy,” Asmolov said, “the North Koreans decide they can start acting, especially since North Korean engineers have prepared a lot of interesting things.”

The moratorium did not apply to short-range missiles. In this segment, the North Koreans have demonstrated both hypersonic missile flight, a variant of nuclear trains and cruise missiles in recent months.

“It’s likely they have something else,” the expert suggested.

He noted that two launches ended with rocket launches into outer space. “If we convert this very high trajectory to a normal one, we are talking about medium-range missiles,” the expert explained. “The United States and its allies have generally said it was an ICBM launch.”

Konstantin Asmolov linked the resumption of missile launches to the US desire to impose further sanctions on North Korea through the UN Security Council. At the same time, in his opinion, it is unlikely that Russia and China, which exercise their veto power, will allow this to be done.

“It is clear that with the Ukrainian crisis and the intensification of the US-Chinese confrontation, the disagreement within the UN Security Council can intensify,” the expert said. Formerly all five countries (permanent members of the UN Security Council. – “MK”) voted together for resolutions against North Korea, and between Moscow, Beijing and Washington there was only a discussion about what level of sanctions pressure would exist, but the very fact of the need for sanctions for the next nuclear test was not in doubt, then we can expect a completely different one ”.

In addition, as Asmolov said, “Sanctions do not apply to certain types of regimes – the standard of living is deteriorating, and for some reason people are not taking to the streets.”

Asmolov assessed Pyongyang’s possible steps in missile programs, saying: “It is unlikely that North Korea will stage a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere. The most likely option is to launch a reconnaissance satellite. North Korea needs it not only to track down opponents, but also to effectively deal with typhoons attacking the North Korean coast. “

According to the expert, this is for Pyongyang “an excellent opportunity to test the reaction of the international community.”

“Because on the one hand there are resolutions banning ballistic missiles, including space missiles, on the other hand, no one has revoked everyone’s right to peaceful exploration of space,” he said.

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