North Korea is keeping up its response to sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council this week, with leader Kim Jong Un warning that the nation will conduct “substantial and high-profile important state measures” — just days after announcing plans for a third nuclear test.
While providing no details of what exactly such measures might mean, Kim is showing his people that he will not be cowed by U.N. sanctions by reacting with bravado — just as his father, Kim Jong Il, did for many years.
The chest-thumping all seems aimed at the U.S., which Kim called “the sworn enemy of the Korean people.”
North Korean state media reported today that Kim had given tasks to his high-ranking officials to achieve his goal. Rodong Sinmun, a state newspaper, ran an essay on Saturday saying that a nuclear test was “the demand of the people.”
“It is the people’s demand that we should do something, not just a nuclear test, but something even greater. The U.N. Security Council has left us no room for choice.”
The North Korean threats, which many experts expected, came after the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution that tightened sanctions on North Korea. The resolution also condemned a Dec. 12 rocket launching as a violation of earlier resolutions that banned the country from conducting any tests involving ballistic-missile technology.
But with North Korea, sanctions usually serve to push it to further extremes.
The statements by North Korea might be considered worrisome from a country that is taken more seriously on the world stage.
Kim said his country would not give up its nuclear weapons until “the denuclearization of the world is realized.”
In a statement issued through state-run media, the National Defense Commission, the country’s highest governing agency headed by Kim, envisioned “a variety of satellites and long-range rockets which will be launched by the D.P.R.K. one after another, and a nuclear test of higher level which will be carried out by it” will be “targeted” at “the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people.”
Using the acronym for the North’s official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the statement was intended to show the world that the country would not be deterred by sanctions or warnings. These are attempts by Kim Jong Un to show the world that his country is no weaker since he came to power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in December 2011.
Kim Jong Un shocked the world last month when North Korea successfully launched a rocket that put a satellite into orbit, defying restrictions imposed by the U.S., China and the rest of the world and dramatically resetting the nature of North Korea’s relationship with its Pacific neighbors.
The North Koreans said the satellite, called Kwangmyongsong-3, is equipped with “survey and communications devices essential for the observation of the Earth.”
This successful launching came after the spectacular failure of a rocket launch in April made North Korea an international laughingstock. After four unsuccessful rocket launches beginning in 1998, that was the first time North Korea tried twice in the same year and the first time in frigid winter.
According to analysts quoted in the Christian Science Monitor, the aggressive actions of North Korea have had one positive side affect: They have brought together the U.S. and China, long the biggest ally of North Korea, to condemn the actions of the rogue state.
While the U.S. and China have not seen eye-to-eye on many issues, such as the tensions between China and Japan over disputed islands in the East China Sea, the U.S. and China both see the need to keep North Korea in check.
The U.S. and China worked together to reach a compromise that allowed unanimous passage of the U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the December long-range rocket test. At talks in Beijing on Friday, Glyn Davies, the U.S. envoy for North Korean issues, said the U.S. and China “achieved a very strong degree of consensus” on how to confront North Korea’s latest threats.
Beijing’s Global Times newspaper, which is aligned with China’s ruling Communist Party, wrote on Friday that “if North Korea engages in further nuclear tests, China will not hesitate to reduce its assistance,” which is considered an unusually blunt warning.
“A new game is on with North Korea,” and the U.N. resolution “indicates that any new nuke test or missile launch will bring yet another round of even stronger and more targeted sanctions,” says George Lopez, a former U.N. monitor of North Korea sanctions and a professor of peace studies at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
Lopez said the new environment “is both the best and the worst for the Obama administration.”
Lopez said it is the “worst” because any a nuclear test would lead to Republican criticism of his foreign policy, but it is the “best” because a test would present Obama with the “opportunity” to show that the world – including the Chinese and Russians – is ready for “meaningful united action.”