Amid the recent inter-Korean military tensions, Pyongyang’s move to place its military forces on high alert and declare front-line areas to be in a “quasi-state of war” were regarded by Seoul as typical of North Korea’s brinkmanship tactics. The total procedure of transporting the rocket, installing a launch pad, and fueling for a launch typically takes a week to ten days.
“It’s extremely regrettable that North Korea is unilaterally distorting and criticizing President Park’s speech before the United Nations and in particular that it is threatening that the reunions of the divided families are “in danger, ‘ even though the reunions are a humanitarian issue that was agreed upon in talks between high-level government officials”.
The North has claimed it was compelled to go nuclear due to Washington’s hostile policy against it, though the USA has repeatedly said it has no hostile intentions toward North Korea.
Seoul and Washington oppose the rocket launches, which are believed to be part of North Korea’s plan to test ballistic missile technology. The reunion programme began in earnest after a historic North-South summit in 2000, and was initially an annual event, but strained cross-border relations have allowed only one reunion in the past five years.
North Korea has indicated that it may launch a satellite on or around October. 10 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers’ Party.
The United States recently imposed new sanctions against two North Korean firms, Korea Mining and Development and Hesong Trading Corp.
Nam Gwang-gyu, a professor at Korea University, said Pyongyang can not ignore a warning from its main economic and political patron.
“We have nothing to be afraid of”.
A few analysts question whether diplomatic pressure from its ally would keep Pyongyang from taking provocative actions.
“North Koreans might feel they have no other options but to continue on their own path and show it to the Chinese, given that bilateral ties between the two sides are coming under strain”, Shin said.
Park also warned that if North Korea maintains its nuclear obsession, its isolation will further deepen and it will never develop economically.
In December 2012, North Korea successfully fired into orbit a long-range rocket carrying a satellite in what appeared to be a major leap forward in its ballistic missile program.