North Korea Update: 8 November, 2022

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have continued trending upward in recent days. North Korean missile tests and artillery exercises conducted in response to US/ROK military exercises currently underway have set off warning alarms in the capitals of South Korean, Japan and the United States. North Korea’s increasingly overt material support for Russia’s war in Ukraine is now attracting a growing amount of attention from the rest of the world. Opinion on North Korea’s long-term goal is divided between two camps. One cross-section of diplomats, politicians, journalists and analysts believes the North’s actions are intended lead up to a nuclear test at some point in the near future. A second group is equally convinced Kim Jong Un is simply biding his time and testing the waters, so to speak. When the time is right, he will order a ballistic missile test with a Hwasong-17 ICBM and follow it up with a nuclear test.

Both theories hold water, although a series of variables are coming into play which could affect timing of a nuclear test by the North, from China’s rising COVID-19 infection rate to the war in Ukraine, and even perhaps the results of today’s US elections. At the end of the day however, it could simply come down to the whim of North Korea’s leader. Whenever he feels the time is right, he’ll move. Regardless of what is taking place in other parts of the world.

There has been some discussion on North Korea’s arms shipments to Russia, and whether or not they are in violation of the sanctions currently in place against the North. Even if a violation has occurred, there is little the UN can do about it. China and Russia are permanent UN Security Council members and will run interference to prevent further sanctions from impacting North Korea.

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