FEATURED | Pyongyang's Growing Nuclear Aspirations
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FEATURED | Pyongyang's Growing Nuclear Aspirations

By Beenish Altaf
Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad, Pakistan

FEATURED | Pyongyang's Growing Nuclear Aspirations

Image Attribute: A sales assistant sits next to TV sets broadcasting a news report on North Korea's fifth nuclear test, in Seoul, South Korea, September 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

North Korea is continually building up its nuclear and missile program that is causing apprehensions worldwide. Its latest nuclear test triggered the fear of nuclear terror among the US and other relevant states. The contemporary test counted as a fifth one and the largest one that has been detonated is estimated at 10 kilotons. It is also worth mentioning here that it came on the 68th anniversary of the regime’s founding. It triggered a flurry of phone calls among the worried leaders of the US, South Korea, and Japan.

Officially it is stated by the “Pyongyang’s Nuclear Weapons Institute that the detonation is a nuclear warhead explosion test for a device able to be mounted on strategic ballistic rockets. The statement also claimed that North Korea’s standardization of this warhead design will allow production, at will, of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher strike power.” 

North Korea presented an unnerving and frightening demonstration over the past few months of its ability to deliver such warheads, using missiles that could strike Japan, South Korea, and even US territory. It is actually planned for the US, against the installation of the anti-missile defense system in the South that further elevated and evoked concerns in the North.

The test has ignited global resentment with the UN Security Council agreeing to begin drawing up new sanctions against the North and several Western capitals threatening the country of its dire consequences. Nevertheless, nuclear missile program of DPRK has become reality as despite all the sanctions and the warnings they have been developing their nuclear program. Ironically, nothing has worked so far, either the UN sanctions or unilateral steps taken by the US, Japan or South Korea. Even the entire focus of the US has been on tightening sanctions against the impoverished country, which is already under five sets of UN sanctions. 

The international community along with the other peace-loving countries is exasperated on North Korea’s growing nuclear aspirations. Likewise, Pakistan has condemned it too, expressing it as against the objective of a nuclear weapons-free Korean peninsula. More precisely, all that Pakistan wants is peace in Korean Peninsula. It is desired that all the countries in the region including North and South Korea, Japan, China and the US, manage the situation diplomatically with utmost responsibility. 

There were plenty of opportunities in the past when North Korean leadership expressed its willingness to talk to the world on its nuclear program subject to the lifting of sanctions and provision of necessary economic assistance. The collaborative approach would have been effective but regrettably, the United States preferred to hurl threats on North Korea aggravating the situation further.

But now North Korea aspires to become the giant of the region by enhancing its nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles. On the other hand, analyst are of the view that to carry out the nuclear attack, North Korea would need to miniaturize its warheads so that they can be fitted on a missile for delivery and there are reasonable doubts about claims of the Pyongyang regarding its ability to miniaturize nuclear weapons. There is a prevailing view from the U.S. analysts believing that India has been covertly helping North Korea develop its nuclear and missile programs despite UN sanctions since 2006. According to international reports and the U.S. experts, India is reportedly involved in training dozens of North Koreans who later took key positions in its sensitive missile programs. More so over, North Koreans have been receiving training related to missile and space programs in India for the past two decades. Since 2006, the UN has issued five major sanctions against North Korea.

Alarmingly, North Korean nuclear advancements pose a serious challenge to the global non-proliferation regime and isolating North Korea has proved to be counter-productive. It is taken as a step further towards miniaturization of its nuclear warheads. However, the ideal solution would be to resolve the issues with a balanced approach having sanctions and diplomatic engagement simultaneously.

While South Korea and Japan might have legitimate concerns over nuclear movements in the neighborhood, there is also urgent need to resolve the problem through constructive engagement with the North aimed at addressing its concerns as well.

FEATURED | Pyongyang's Growing Nuclear Aspirations

Image Attribute: Ryoo Yong-gyu, Earthquake and Volcano Monitoring Division Director, points at a chart showing seismic waves observed in South Korea, during a media briefing at Korea Meteorological Administration in Seoul, South Korea, September 9, 2016.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

About the Author:

Beenish Altaf is working as a Research Associate for the Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad, Pakistan.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IndraStra Global

AIDN0020920160039 / INDRASTRA / ISSN 2381-3652