Messages In A Missile

20 May

nk short range missileThe good news is, that North Korea didn’t launch medium-range Musudans – which would seem to undermine the symbolism of inviting Isao Iijima to Pyongyang, and then ignoring the Park administration about Gaeseong. Saturday’s morning and afternoon short-range missile launches by North Korea were a message, but what did they say, and to whom?

On one hand, there’s the North Korean people.

Short-range missile tests by North Korea are quite common, the last one having taken place about two months ago. Firing off the missiles Saturday might have been a face-saving move by the government in Pyongyang, under intense international scrutiny over its next move, an analyst said.

“By launching the short-range missile the North wouldn’t provoke countries surrounding them, but can tell its people that they have carried out a serious threat against the U.S.,” said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at South Korea’s Sejong Institute.

Or, it’s a message to Washington.

Analysts say the recent North Korean threats were partly an attempt to push Washington to agree to disarmament-for-aid talks. In the past week, Glyn Davies, the top US envoy on North Korea, ended trips to South Korea, China and Japan. On Friday, an adviser to the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, returned from North Korea but didn’t immediately give details of his talks with officials there.

At the least, it shows Pyongyang doesn’t fire off ballistic just for the thrill, or the nuttiness of it.

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