North Korea Raises Tensions With Missile Launch
North Korea fired three short-range guided missiles into the sea off the eastern coast of the Korean peninsula on Saturday, which analysts viewed as a protest against South Korea for conducting military drills in the East Sea with the US.
The launch did not occur in a vacuum. Rather, it comes several weeks after South Korean workers were told to leave a jointly run industrial park inside North Korea and weeks of Pyongyang issuing verbal threats against South Korea after the UN imposed tougher sanctions in February.
This week a UN panel determined those sanctions are having an impact on North Korea’s nuclear program. According to CBS News, the report says sanctions have “in all likelihood considerably delayed the (North’s) timetable, and through the imposition of financial sanctions and the bans on the trade in weapons, has choked off significant funding which would have been channeled into prohibited activities.”
However, British Ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall contends they are not bulletproof. In fact, he says, “There are some loopholes in the implementation of the sanctions regime that are being exploited by the DPRK [North Korea].”
While China is accurately viewed as Pyongyang’s only ally in the region (and even that relationship is tiring), this week’s visit by a Japanese government official has irked some of Tokyo’s allies.
Glyn Davies, the U.S. special representative on North Korea, told reporters that it is crucial the West hold a united front.
“The issue of denuclearization is central and is paramount. That’s why it is important…that we stay connected very closely, all of us stay knitted up on the issue of how we approach North Korea.” Mr. Davies didn’t criticize Mr. Iijima’s trip directly.
Also this week: A report showed North Korea may have nearly double the number previously estimated by Seoul authorities.
Russia Continues Its Support Of Syria
In what some analysts see as a less-than-subtle signal to the US and western powers to disengage, Russia deployed more than a dozen ships to its naval base in Syria over the past three months, and recently sent advanced anti-ship missiles to Bashir al-Assad’s regime.
A UN commission on refugees estimates that more than 1.5 million Syrians have fled the country, while another 4 million have been displaced within Syria.