North Korea carried out tests on its new long-range cruise missile, developed in their artillery department. Such weapons development and enhancement is happening in the country despite having a staggering economy and food shortages nationwide. Weapons analysts commented on how these new weapons are capable of causing damage to any target and are threatening to other nations. Possession of intimidating weapons is limited to developed countries and extends to any nation with the resources and know-how of weapon technology. Professions linked to these undertakings are confined to the government to curb threats to security and espionage.
During the weekend, North Korean military personnel oversaw the testing of missiles, which were seen “traveling up to 1 500km (930 miles), and this was regarded as a threatening act which might lead to a war or bombing of North Korea’s enemies [Source]. According to the Korean News Agency, the new long-range cruise missiles portray a significant change in the nation’s military hardware and present a novel breed of weaponry that qualifies North Korea among the most equipped states with a viable artillery sector. The state media described the missile as a “strategic weapon of great significance,” which is necessary given the long altercation with the US over the Korean nuclear program.
President Kim Jong-un has not been the one to shy away from showing off his military “toys” and was very out public with this one as a way of showing his prowess to the other superpowers. The Rodong Sinmun newspaper depicted a pictorial view of the missile launched from a firing vehicle tube “in a ball of fire.” Parading of military hardware is a common trade by many countries who deem themselves to be “rich in weapons.” Various analysts from numerous countries commented on the testing process and viewed it as an advancement in the technology of North’s weapons.
The downside of North Korea’s weapon development is that it comes at the expense of feeding the citizens. Reports revealed how a big chunk of the country’s budget is spent in the military sector while other vital departments such as health, agriculture, and industry are starved. With how certain countries amass weapons, one would think an impending World War is brewing behind the scenes. Kim Jong-un has been faced with an economic crisis ever since the coronavirus pandemic emerged on the globe [Source]. In August, analysts blamed Kim Jong-un for running away from fixing the financial crisis and wasting resources to boost his military wings [Source]. He urged his citizens to prepare themselves for problems he equated to the “arduous march” of the 1990s. Around three million allegedly died because of famine and offered zero plans on preventing people from starving.
Despite these challenges, the Kim regime seems determined to continue with the nuclear programs and keep up with weapon technology. The chase to establish a fully equipped armory appears to be an obsession since the economy is bleeding, but funds are injected into making missiles that would be probably stashed for a long time before being used and might not even be launched against any enemy. The Korean state media were in full swing in supporting the missile program and uttered that it gifted the country with “another effective deterrence means” against “hostile forces [Source]. Currently, North Korea is under international sanctions because of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs intended to be used against a US invasion, as noted by the Kim administration.
Under the UN Security Council sanctions, North Korea is banned from testing ballistic missiles but can experiment with cruise ones. However, some officials were concerns about the cruise missiles programs. A defense researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Joseph Dempsey, said: “The development of a long-range cruise missile could pose additional challenges for South Koreas’ missile defenses.” Katsunobu Kato, the Japanese chief cabinet secretary, noted how his country had “significant concerns” over the cruise and worked with the US and South Korea “to monitor the situation.” The US military believed that these missile tests show how North Kores is “continuing focus on developing its military program” and is prepared to defend Japan and South Korea, which are the US’s allies.
The Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi thought that Kim chose cruise missiles to avoid provoking the US and China. But Jeffery Lewis of the Middlebury Institute for International Studies believed that the cruise missiles can deliver warheads to Japan and South Korea and added that “An intermediate-range land-attack cruise missile is a pretty serious capability for North Korea.”
One can only sympathize with the citizens of North Korea who are faced with a double folded pandemic of coronavirus and food shortages, while their government is prioritizing excelling in military weapons than catering for the public.