North Korea launched two new types of short-range ballistic missiles into the sea on July 25 and a senior defense researcher at a public policy community said it is Pyongyang’s attempt to pressurize the White House.
The missiles were fired from near the eastern coastal town of Wonsan, with one flying roughly 270 miles and the other 430 miles before splashing into the Sea of Japan off the coast of North Korea, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“North Korea is trying to pressurize the United States with these missile launches. North Korean culture makes it want to compel action by outside states, using a coercive strategy, in which case the regime will look strong internally,” Bruce W. Bennett, a senior Defense Researcher with Rand, a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges told The Epoch Times via email.
Bennett, who specializes in the ongoing Korean crisis, has worked with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, U.S. Forces Korea and Japan, the U.S. Pacific Command and Central Command, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japanese militaries, and the ROK National Assembly. He said North Korea has several objectives behind these launches.
“First, North Korea is trying to put pressure on the United States and South Korea to cancel their pending defensive military exercise,” said Bennett.
Last week, North Korea said it may lift its 20-month suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests in response to the drills.
“The North does not want the U.S./ROK preparing to defend the ROK against the invasion that the North is preparing,” said Bennett, adding that Pyongyang is also trying to pressure Washington to give it sanctions relief.
“North Korea seems oblivious to the fact that many of the sanctions are conditional: they will be relieved if North Korean bad behavior changes for the good,” he said. “But its culture gets in the way.”
Missiles’ Resemblance to Russian Iskander
Media reports have pointed at the new missiles’ resemblance to the Russain Iskander missile.
The Iskander is a road-mobile short-range ballistic missile with a range of 310 miles (500 kilometers), according to the CSIS Missile Defense Project.
Bennett explained that the U.S./Russian (originally Soviet) intermediate-range missile agreement limited the missiles’ range to 310 miles.
“The first North Korean missile launched yesterday flew out to less than 500 km, so it may also be an Iskander variant,” he said. “But the second North Korean missile launched yesterday flew to over 600 km, suggesting that it was a new type of missile and not directly an Iskander.”
Bennett said that while details about the second missile are not yet known, there’s a possibility that it is a ballistic missile designed to launch from the submarine that North Korea displayed on July 23.
The submarine was personally inspected by Kim Jong Un and the senior officials of the Party Central Committee, according to the Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency.
“Both Iskander and a submarine-launched ballistic missile have characteristics that would make them difficult for the Patriot missile defense system to shoot down, so North Korea is apparently trying to demonstrate new, threatening capabilities,” Bennet explained.
Bennet says North Korea is trying to pressure the United States for a sanctions concession before the negotiation process starts. “But almost a year and a half after North Korea offered to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, North Korea has yet do any denuclearization,” he said.
“The North has taken some confidence-building measures. But the North has not surrendered a single nuclear weapon or stopped nuclear weapon production at any facility,” said Bennet.
According to Bennet, the regime in North Korea has been telling the elite in the country that it has no intention of letting go of its nuclear program and has instead continued to build its nuclear capabilities to produce more.