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North Korea backs down! But why did Kim Jong Un change his mind?

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
8/15/2017 (3 months ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

China and U.S. military threat are possible answers.

North Korea has backed down from threats to fire missiles at Guam. The reason for the reversal is unknown. The decision is the first step in a possible de-escalation of the developing conflict between North Korea and the United States.

Kim Jong Un has cancelled a planned test to fire four ballistic missiles at Guam. It is apparent the risk of the test is too great for the country to take.

Kim Jong Un has cancelled a planned test to fire four ballistic missiles at Guam. It is apparent the risk of the test is too great for the country to take.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
8/15/2017 (3 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: North Korea, missiles, war, Guam, retaliation, time, August


LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) -- Following months of escalation that threatened to develop into a full-scale conflict, North Korea has backed down. It is unknown why North Korea reversed its plan to fire missiles in the direction of Guam.  The questions now are whether President Trump will match North Korea's gesture with conciliatory language, and how North Korea itself will react to Kim Jong Un's decision.

The United States and North Korea have come close to war following several years of North Korean missile and nuclear weapon development. North Korea intends to develop a missile that can deliver a nuclear warhead to a target in the continental United States. Recent developments and a furious pace of testing have surprised the world. Experts now conclude that North Korea can strike the United States with a nuclear weapon, or is close to it.


In response, the U.S. has followed a dual approach, using diplomacy, sanctions, and military threats to discourage, slow, and stop the North Korean nuclear weapon program.

None of these methods have worked. The North has endured sanctions, ignored diplomatic agreements, and threatened to use its own military, augmented by nuclear weapons, to prevent any possible attempt at regime change in North Korea.

Last week, a top North Korean general announced that the military was preparing a test of four medium-range ballistic missiles that would be fired in the direction of Guam. The missiles would overfly Japan and land less than 25 miles away from Guam. The test was scheduled for any time after August 15.

The announcement brought condemnation from world leaders and President Trump threatened to attack North Korea.

War appeared possible, if not likely, until China intervened and announced to both sides that it would not take the side of an aggressor. This meant if the United States would strike preemptively, China would intervene to defend North Korea. However, if North Korea attacks the U.S. or her Allies, then China vowed to remain neutral. China has a stake in keeping North Korea's present regime in power. It is a cheap trading partner and a buffer against having western-allied forces on its direct border.

The Chinese statement appears to have worked. North Korea announced today they would not carry out their planned test. However, they warned they could change their mind at a moment's notice, should the U.S. continue to "provoke" them.

It is not absolutely clear that the Chinese pledge compelled the North to cancel their test. Other possibilities remain, including the possibility the test was a bluff, that the missiles could not be guaranteed to work, or that the threat of U.S. military power was too much.

It remains to be seen if Kim Jong Un's subordinates see this decision as a sign of weakness. There have been concerns about the loyalty of Kim Jong Un's staff. Kim Jong Un has spent much of his time in power consolidating it, purging anyone who was too popular, or who dared to disagree with him.

For now, the drumbeat of war has been silenced. It remains to be seen for how long. Joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea are scheduled for next week.

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