While South Korea may have ignored warnings to evacuate foreigners from the country, it is taking the possibility of an imminent North Korean missile test very seriously and says that the possibility of a missile launch is “very high.”
CNN reports that the most recent U.S. intelligence shows “North Korea may test fire mobile ballistic missiles at any time.” There is also concern that North Korea will conduct the test without notifying air traffic and ships to stay away from the area where it is testing.
In response to this heightened threat, reports in a South Korean newspaper say the country has increased its surveillance of North Korea, which includes adding more intelligence officers to a joint operation between the U.S. and South Korean militaries.
South Korea hasn’t entirely given up on diplomacy, either, with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se asking China and Russia — countries that have better relations with North Korea — to step in as mediators and help reduce tensions, reports Reuters.
Tensions are further heightened by the fact that leader Kim Jun-Un will lead North Korea in the celebration of several significant anniversaries in coming days, which the country may choose to mark with a show of power. From Reuters:
These include the first anniversary of Kim’s formal ascent to power, the 20th anniversary of rule by his father Kim Jong-Il, who died in 2011, and the birth date next Monday of his grandfather, state founder Kim Il-Sung.
However, there is also a chance that North Korea’s deliberate escalation of tensions in the region could be an effort to guarantee its own security and as well as aid from other countries.
Should North Korea make good on its threats, there is also no guarantee that the medium-range missiles which many speculate could be tested — missiles that could theoretically reach Japan — will actually work, writes David Blair at The Telegraph.
North Korea may not be willing to risk launching the medium-range Musudan missiles that were recently deployed on its eastern coastline. That’s because the Musudan has never been tested before. If Kim Jong-un sends the weapon flying into the sky, only for it to fizzle out and plunge back into the ocean, that would be somewhat embarrassing.
And there would be nothing like a failed missile launch to ruin an important anniversary.