North Korea conducted another test at the Sohe cosmodrome. This was reported by the Central Telegraph Agency of North Korea (CTAC) with reference to the Academy of Defense Sciences of the republic.
“Our defense scientists have been greatly honored to receive warm congratulations from the Party Central Committee. The results in the defense business, which we have been achieving one after another recently, will be applied to raise the reliable potential of the DPRK’s strategic nuclear deterrence by one more level, ”the North Korean agency reports.
- Kim Jong-un during a visit to the Sohe training ground.
- © KCNA
However, the statement does not specify what kind of development is being discussed.
The Sohe Cosmodrome is located in the western regions of the DPRK, in the vicinity of the settlement of Tonghanni. According to media reports, a test bench for rocket engines was installed at the cosmodrome, as well as a platform for missile launches.
In July 2018, Pyongyang announced a partial dismantling of the cosmodrome as part of the course on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but soon this work was suspended.
On December 9, 2019, DPRK Permanent Representative to the UN Kim Song stated that the topic of nuclear disarmament, which was discussed during the talks between Pyongyang and Washington, had lost its relevance for North Korea.
“Now we do not need to hold lengthy negotiations with the United States, denuclearization is no longer on the list of topics for discussion,” said Kim Soong.
On the same day, the Central Control Commission released a message from a representative of the DPRK National Defense Academy, which spoke of a "very significant test" conducted at the Sohe cosmodrome on December 7. There were no details, it was only specified that the test result “will have a key impact on the next change in the strategic status” of the republic.
Shortly before this report, North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Tae Song stated that Pyongyang has a "Christmas present" for the United States, but what it will depend on Washington. According to him, the dialogue advertised by the American side is needed only for use in domestic political purposes.
This is not the only attack of Pyongyang against Washington in recent times. On December 10, Kim Dong Chol, chairman of the DPRK Peace Committee for Asia and the Pacific, criticized Donald Trump, calling him an "extravagant old man."
Earlier, an American leader told reporters that he had “excellent relations” with Kim Jong-un, but there was “a certain hostility” from North Korea. Later, he wrote on Twitter that the North Korean leader could “lose everything” if he acts in a hostile manner.
Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore. He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere .... https://t.co/THfOjfB2uE- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2019
Commenting on these statements, Kim Yong Chol said that the DPRK "has nothing more to lose."
“Even if the US threatens to take away something else from us, they will not be able to take away our existence, our strength, our anger in their direction ... Trump said that he would be surprised if we did something. Of course, he will be surprised. We are doing this to make him startled, ”a North Korean official said.
As a leading researcher at the Center for Korean Studies at the Institute of the Far East, Evgeny Kim, explained in an interview with RT, Pyongyang restored the installation for testing engines at the Sohe training ground, therefore, most likely, we are talking about tests in this direction.
“Recently, DPRK officials have increasingly reminded the States that the US side has not done anything in practice to resolve the situation. Carrying out the tests, Pyongyang signals Washington about the need for some steps and proposals, at least a partial lifting of sanctions, ”the expert explained.
Recall that in early 2018, Kim Jong-un announced the completion of the creation of nuclear forces in the country.
During 2016 and 2017, North Korea conducted three nuclear tests, as well as ballistic missile tests. Against this background, Donald Trump sent an aircraft carrier group to the borders of the DPRK at a distance of an air strike - then experts seriously discussed the likelihood of a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
However, in 2018, detente began in relations between Pyongyang and Washington - a new effort was made by the new President of South Korea, Moon Zhe Ying, to start negotiations.
- First meeting of Kim Jong-un and Donald trump in Singapore
- © Jonathan Ernst
The first meeting of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un took place in June 2018. Following the talks, a declaration was signed, according to which Pyongyang reaffirmed its commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Subsequently, the leaders held two more meetings, but the denuclearization process stalled. Although the North Korean side took a number of steps towards the United States by starting the dismantling of nuclear facilities, the U.S. administration refused to lift sanctions from the republic until complete denuclearization, under which the White House implies not only the destruction of all weapons-grade uranium and plutonium production facilities, but also all ammunition and delivery vehicles.
At the same time, the American side did not provide any security guarantees to Pyongyang. These conditions, in turn, do not suit the DPRK leadership.
In April 2019, Kim Jong-un announced that he was ready to wait until the end of the year for steps from the American administration to change the approach to dialogue with Pyongyang. Until that moment, Kim Jong-un promised to "patiently wait for the bold decision of the United States." At the same time, the politician did not specify exactly what measures Pyongyang plans to resort to if Washington does not meet the deadline.
- DPRK Permanent Representative to the UN Kim Sung
- © Brendan McDermid
Despite the fact that in June 2019, Donald Trump met with Kim Jong-un in the demilitarized zone at the Panmunmj border checkpoint, the U.S.-DPRK negotiations did not advance.
Another attempt to give a new impetus to the dialogue was made in early October, when a delegation from the DPRK led by North Korean chief negotiator on denuclearization issues, Kim Myung-gil, arrived in Sweden to negotiate with American colleagues. In anticipation of the meeting, the North Korean diplomat noted that he had high hopes.
However, these negotiations were not successful and were prematurely interrupted - as the North Korean side stated, because of the unwillingness of the American delegation to show flexibility.
According to Yevgeny Kim, Trump most likely understands that North Korea needs time to complete nuclear disarmament, since Pyongyang will not be disarmed until it receives a security guarantee.
“If Washington still does not have time to work out some new proposals before the end of December, Pyongyang will have to take new steps. However, the answer is unlikely to be a nuclear test. Maybe this will be a new launch of ICBMs or something else, ”said the expert.
A similar point of view is shared by political analyst Alexander Asafov. According to the expert, although the meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore was called “historical,” in reality, the DPRK leadership believed and continues to believe that the presence of nuclear weapons is a guarantee of the preservation of the country's sovereignty.
“Pyongyang will strengthen its defenses despite a dialogue with Washington. At the same time, Trump is confident that he was able to push North Korea to negotiations and peace, and wants to credit it to himself on the eve of the upcoming presidential election. In reality, the American administration does not understand the North Korean leadership well, ”the expert noted in a comment to RT.
Asafov also doubts that Pyongyang will take sharp steps after the expiration of its "ultimatum."
“It is unlikely that the North Korean side is ready to bring the situation to an irreversible stage. Most likely, everything will be limited to the fact that the DPRK will from time to time demonstrate new types of weapons, ”the expert said.
“Washington is not ready to accept the recommendations of other countries”
Moscow and Beijing are ready to offer assistance to Washington and Pyongyang in promoting negotiations. This was announced on December 14 by the ambassador of the Russian Federation to the DPRK, Alexander Matsegora. According to the diplomat, Russia and China will try to submit their proposals to the UN Security Council.
“We will try to convince the Americans and their allies that their policy in the Korean direction should not be the politics of an elephant in a china shop. We have one common understanding with the Americans: we want the peninsula to be denuclearized. We do not want to have a nuclear neighbor. In this sense, we have common goals. We propose to pursue a policy that will lead to this goal, ”RIA Novosti quoted the ambassador as saying on the air of the Vladivostok radio station.
- UN Security Council meeting
- © Shannon Stapleton
According to the diplomat, the pressure Washington exerts on North Korea is counterproductive.
“They challenge Koreans to prove that sanctions do not affect them. And how can one prove it better than launching another intercontinental missile or conducting a nuclear explosion? ”Asked Macegora.
However, experts doubt that the American side will be ready to accept the advice and ideas of other countries. As explained by Eugene Kim, Russia offers a simple solution - to respond by lowering sanctions pressure on the concessions that the DPRK has already made.
“There is a very tough sanctions regime against North Korea, killing both foreign trade and the country's economy. But Washington is not ready to accept the recommendations of other countries. Even if the American administration is ready to enter into some kind of cooperation on this issue, it’s for one purpose only - that third countries help only the American side, that they seek surrender of the DPRK, ”the expert said.
A similar point of view is shared by Alexander Asafov.
“Russia and China are strong regional actors, but the American administration is not ready to listen to the opinions of other countries. Moreover, the eccentric style of negotiating Donald Trump does not allow for the implementation of balanced advice, ”the expert summed up.