Another North Korean Provocation Ahead of the G20 Summit? Don’t Count on It

June 26, 2019
Grace Liu

The following is an excerpt of an article published in The Diplomat.

The 2019 G20 Summit, an annual meeting between governments and financial officials from the 20 largest world economies, is slotted to take place in Osaka in a few days. Ahead of this significant gathering, much attention has been on North Korea and how it may posture itself as a key topic of discussion between select countries.

North Korea has used shows of military force to regain global attention ahead of previous G20 summits, firing missiles just days ahead of the 2016 and 2017 G20 summits, held in Beijing and Hamburg, respectively. It did not conduct any missile launches ahead of the 2018 summit in Buenos Aires last November, due to its self-declared moratorium on long-range missiles promised ahead of the Singapore Summit between North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in June 2018.

North Korea Officials with Un Laughing Image Credit Rodong Sinmun

Image Credit Rodong Sinmun

North Korea conducted a pair of test launches of rockets in May of this year, which could potentially  be interpreted as a violation of its self-established missile launch moratorium. However, neither North Korea, South Korea, nor the United States have explicitly acknowledged these weapons as missiles. North Korea called the activity a “tactical guided weapon” test while the South Korean media insisted that the weapons were “projectiles”, not missiles. Trump also downplayed the significance of the launches. By playing with semantics, these major parties vested in the Korean Peninsula peace process that began last year contend that the launches do not undermine the progress made thus far through diplomatic efforts and therefore leave the door open for future negotiations. Furthermore, the tested weapons systems were analyzed and concluded to be similar to the short-range Russian Iskander ballistic missile. These sorts of missiles do not violate the self-imposed North Korean moratorium, which only applies to intercontinental ballistic missiles (specifically, intercontinental-range ballistic missiles).

Continue reading at The Diplomat.

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