“We do not hide that 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 will target against the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people,” the statement said, using the abbreviation for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
But it also repeated past wording that the nuclear program was meant as deterrence.
For those at home wondering how to say “sworn enemy” in Korean, it’s cheolcheonji wonsu (철천지원수).
BTW, I’m glad the North has finally picked up this. I know when I renewed my passport a couple of years ago, I had to swear eternal hatred for the Korean people. And the Canadians.
VOA has got an analysis piece up that warns that North Korea’s latest threat isn’t just bluster. And honestly, I doubt it is. OK, the official outrage at the United States is probably fake—the rhetoric is just their way of making sure we’re listening—but a third nuclear test is a good bet. Sure, there’s are a ton of other retaliatory options the North could mobilize—most of them involving the murder of South Korean armed forces personnel—but I’m guessing Pyongyang’s wants to go big.
In the VOA piece, some former State Department official said China could be a wildcard factor:
Reiss, who said Pyongyang’s behavior is antagonizing Beijing, described China’s endorsement of this week’s United Nations resolution as part of an “increasing reassessment” by intellectuals, academics and the Chinese Communist Party “about the value and wisdom of keeping North Korea as the type of ally [it has been].”
He said the Chinese have “significant influence” over North Korea both as an energy/food supplier and a “safety valve” source of temporary employment for North Korean workers.
However, analysis in the Chosun Ilbo suggests China might not be much of a factor. In a forum hosted by the Chosun, the Brookings Institute and a Korean think tank, Jonathan D. Pollack—the head of Brooking’s John L. Thornton China Center—said North Korea’s nuclear test threat means they are ready to butt heads with China.
China has provided—for virtually free—about 300,000–400,000 tons of food aid and 500,000 tons of crude oil a year. The food aid covers about half of North Korea’s annual food shortfalls and the oil about half of North Korea’s annual demand. Put bluntly, China is North Korea’s lifeline, and the Chosun notes that Beijing has on occasion used that life line to get North Korea to behave. A Unification Ministry official told the paper he believes Kim Jong-un’s got neither the balls nor the strategic thinking to play China like his dad did.
Others, however, think Kim III has grown more brazen thanks to the successful rocket launch last month. Some also say the fact that Chinese foreign policy makers adopted policies favorable to North Korea following its second nuclear test—namely, by deciding to treat North Korea issues and the nuke issue separately—has encouraged North Korean adventurism.
This is to say, North Korea uses the fact that China considers the stability of the North Korean regime more important than getting the North to denuclearize.
A South Korean security official also said the nuclear issue is also tied up with North Korean domestic concerns, which is one of the reasons it’s so difficult to resolve.
One other thing the Chosun notes is that North Korea hasn’t really had anything bad to say about Park Geun-hye since her election. A Unification Ministry official said it seems the North hopes for improvements in inter-Korean relations when Park takes office, but that won’t be easy as long as the North continues to do what it’s doing.
Oh, and in case anyone forgot—and I imagine the North Koreans haven’t—some B-2s will soon be in the neighborhood.