At 3:17 am on November 29th, the DPRK government fired an ICBM missile, which reached an altitude of 2,780 miles and flew for fifty-three minutes before descending into Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Named Hwasong-15, the new-generation weapon is capable of carrying a warhead that can re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere over a range of 8,000 miles. Experts estimate that Kim Jong-un’s nuclear attack range has expanded to include continental United States and Europe, covering world capitals including London and Washington D.C.
As nuclear deterrence escalated to a new level, the United States takes new diplomatic actions. Nikki Haley, speaking at the UN Security Council on behalf of the United States, claimed President Trump advised President Xi of China to cut off all petroleum supplies of North Korea, “the main driver of its nuclear production.”
In response, Xi insisted Beijing’s goal to “maintain peace and stability…and denuclearize the Korean Peninsula” has never changed. Further, Global Times, a newspaper under China’s People’s Daily, blamed the incompetency of U.S. policymakers who assumed diplomatic pressure could persuade Kim to give up his arsenal. According to the newspaper, “[China would] not support a new round of Trump administration pressure tactics.” However, as the Chinese government simultaneously threatened to exclude DPRK from the East Asian community if it remains a nuclear-armed state, it is probable that China desires to limit U.S. influence in East Asia through the dilemma.
Up to now, North Korea has experimented and improved its nuclear arsenal over the course of four decades. In 1976, DPRK purportedly purchased a batch of Scuds, USSR ballistic missiles developed in the Cold War, from Egypt. After eight years of study, the government began building first-generation Hwasongs with a maximum range of over 600 miles. According to an April 2016 analysis by United States’ International Institute for Strategic studies, the missiles are capable of hitting all South Korea and a considerable portion of Japan. In the following year, Kim Jong-un now has a nuclear weapon that covers over half of the globe.
Indeed, North Korea today is not only a threat to its Southern counterpart, but also to Asia and the entire world. Should North Korea be toppled as soon as possible, given its irrationality and swift technological development? Should United States make concessions on the Korean Peninsula to make China feel less threatened, or should both take measures in order to collaborate on the issue?