Ten Minutes After NK Missile Launch, US Air Force Conducts 'Test' of Their Own


So, the North Koreans are back to testing missiles. This shouldn’t surprise anybody, as Kim Jong Un isn’t getting as much attention as he used to and his bid to have sanctions removed without denuclearization failed in Hanoi.

The New York Times reported that a pair of short-range ballistic missiles were launched on Thursday, with one managing to make it 260 miles and the other 170 miles.

This, The Times reported, was described as “an escalation from the North’s most recent weapons test just five days ago,” where the missiles traveled somewhere between 43 and 125 miles. No location was given for the splashdowns this time, but the distances would be consistent with somewhere in the sea that separates North Korea and Japan.

“Our military has stepped up our surveillance and monitoring in preparation for possible additional launches by North Korea,” a statement from the South Korean military said, according to The Times.

“We remain fully prepared in close coordination with the United States.”

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We’ve been here before, of course. And in the past, the one thing that’s become apparent is that while North Korean technology is improving and they’ve certainly been willing to test the limits of a sovereignty highly qualified by numerous sanctions with weapons testing, what they have is no match for what Kim Jong Un imagines to be his primary belligerent: The United States of America.

As if to emphasize the point, the United States test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile within 10 minutes of the North Korean launch, Fox News reported:

“The American intercontinental ballistic missile flew 4,200 miles into [the] Pacific from a base in California, according to the Air Force. The launch of the Minuteman III intercontinental missile was the second missile launch this month and the fourth this year.”

The military insisted that the test wasn’t in response to Pyongyang.

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“It’s important to note that our test launch is not a response or reaction to world events. The launch calendars are built three to five years in advance, and planning for each individual launch begins six months to a year prior to the launch,” Linda Frost, deputy, Media Operations of the Air Force Global Strike Command, told Fox News.

The North Koreans do have ICBMs of their own, of course, as we found out in 2017.

At the time, according to Reuters, Kim noted after the test of Hwasong-15 — a missile with a range of over 6,000 miles, which would put the United States in range — that North Korea “finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force.”

The problem was, according to Reuters, that observers weren’t necessarily convinced the Hwasong-15 was all that efficacious. There were serious questions about whether the missile could carry a big enough payload or had “perfected a re-entry vehicle capable of protecting a nuclear warhead during its descent,” another Reuters report noted.

It may be somewhat superfluous to note that those problems don’t exist with the Minuteman III, but I’ll note it anyway. It will hit what we aim it at, and Kim should keep that in mind.

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Pyongyang’s latest saber-rattling could be related to the fact that Stephen Biegun, the administration’s North Korea negotiator, is currently visiting Japan and South Korea to talk about denuclearization. It’s difficult to get inside the mind of Kim Jong Un and his military retinue, but one could safely venture a guess the two events may be related.

The test also comes roughly two months after the last round of negotiations between the United States and North Korea in Hanoi collapsed after Kim demanded sanctions be removed in exchange for only partial denuclearization.

The problem for Pyongyang is that the Juche regime can’t promise mutually assured destruction. The best it can seem to drum up is mutually assured annoyance. We don’t need another pointless series of missile launches that seem designed to test the world’s patience instead of testing missiles.

If Kim wants real progress toward becoming part of the world, it’s time for his government to sit down at the table and start actually sketching out a plan for denuclearization.

That’s wishful thinking, though.

Instead, we can expect more of these gnat-sting provocation whose meaninglessness, at least in this instance, was underscored severely by another missile launch just 10 minutes later.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture