Significance: North Korea has fired 23 missiles during 16 tests since February, further perfecting its technology with each launch.In a significant intercontinental ballistic missile(ICBM) test by North Korea, which flew higher and farther than any other previous tests, the missile launch landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone. North Korea later said it could deliver heavy nuclear warheads anywhere in the continental United States which is a threat to world peace and regional stability.
History of North Korean issue: Japan had annexed Korean peninsula in the early part of 20th century. They used people of Korea to fight for Japan in wars. Upon defeat of Japan in 1945, United States and Soviet Union divided the peninsula into two zones of influence along the the 38th parallel. North Korea was controlled by the communist faction of Soviet Union and South Korea was pro-U.S. Republic of Korea led by the strongly anti-communist Synghman Rhee.
Korean war was soon instigated by territorial disputes over the entire Korean peninsula. In 1950, North Korean forces invaded South Korea, setting off the Korean War. The United States came to the South Korea’s aid opposing the invasion fearing the spread of communist forces in Asia. Both sides signed an agreement to stop war in 1953 after three years of intense and brutal war.
The agreement left the borders of North and South Korea essentially unchanged, with a heavily guarded demilitarized zone about 2.5 miles wide running roughly along the 38th parallel. A formal peace treaty, however, was never signed. This episode of issues later lead to the U.S- North Korea conflict in the region.
Post war development in North Korea:
- Structure of government: was modeled after organisational structure of Stalinist Russia, with greater focus on military build-up and heavy industry instead of agricultural sector. Even though the neighbouring countries remodeled their structure of government like China, North Korea did not.
- Economic development: North Korea has a centralized economy. The state controls all means of production, and the government sets priorities and emphases in economic development. The falling prices for North Korea’s native minerals hit the economy hard. North Korea started accepting foreign aid during the 1990’s due to the volatile situation.
- Military Policy: North Korea introduced an Army First policy by the later 1970’s which transformed the country from a traditional communist government to a military dictatorship.
- Nuclear Programmes: As a founding member of the Soviet-led Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, North Korea had for years sent its scientists to the Soviet Union for nuclear energy training. The Soviets even helped North Korea set up its first nuclear reactor in 1964. The dictatorship regime enabled North Korea to develop nuclear weapons.In 2005, North Korea announced that it had completed its first underground nuclear test, and its ongoing nuclear program continues to be a point of contention in the international community.
Steps to tackle North Korea’s actions:
- Diplomatic actions: China is stressing that the best solution to North Korea’s nuclear and missile development issue is dialogue. Even U.S. Secretary of State have opined that they remain committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearization and to ending belligerent actions by North Korea through open dialogue.
- Sanctions through multilateral organisations: The UN Security Council has passed a number of resolutions since North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006. Resolution 1718 in 2006 demanded that North Korea cease nuclear testing and prohibited the export to North Korea of some military supplies and luxury goods. Similarly Resolution 2375 passed on September 11 2017 limited North Korean crude oil and refined petroleum product imports, banned joint ventures, textile exports, natural gas condensate and liquid imports.
- Defensive measures: Pentagon is considering installing Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) batteries to two sites on the West Coast to protect against attack by North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Why issue is not yet solved:
- Non commitment of North Korean regime: They virtually break every sanctions imposed on them by UNSC. Experts say that such sanctions are difficult to enforce and aren’t very effective. Even when, Trump administration slapped sanctions on several North Korean shipping and trading the commodities and other goods were traded between China and North Korea. Also, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 2003.
- Role of China: China has played a non committed game on North Korea that traps the U.S. innegotiations. China’s gambit has undercut U.S. goals in key areas like maintaining normal bilateral economic relations with Pyongyang, absolving it of any direct stake in the denuclearization project and also largely ignored the international counter-proliferation financing regime. Although China agreed in February to ban North Korean coal imports, iron imports have surged and total trade increased by 10.5 percent in the first half of the year, to $2.55 billion.
- Economic Growth of North Korea: Eventhough UN is imposing fresh trade sanctions on North Korea, it is not effective in nature. North Korean economy is improving more than is commonly understood and that will make altering its behavior through trade barriers significantly harder.
India’s stand on North Korea: U.S. government has been urging various countries to isolate North Korea . New Delhi had been indirectly apprised that Washington would prefer India to snap ties. India banned all trade with Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, except for food and medicine which is in line with United Nations Security Council sanctions. India is a critic of North Korea’s aim of becoming a nuclear power, however it refused to cut the diplomatic ties completely with North Korea.