At the same time that the North Korean regime is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party with great fanfare, Seoul and Washington are looking into possible solutions and new sanctions that could be taken against Pyongyang, which is acting as unpredictably as ever. A few days from the U.S.-South Korea summit, Park Geun Hye and Barack Obama fear a new provocation from Kim Jong Un. The North Korean leader could indeed use the meeting between the two presidents — followed by Ms. Park’s visit to the Pentagon — as an excuse to make himself noticed by testing new weapons, among other things.
The South Korean daily newspaper, the Korea Herald, underlined in last Friday’s edition how “any kind of actions [from North Korea] … would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.”* This situation is serious enough to justify the South Korean and American intelligence services to take advance precautions in the event of aggression from Pyongyang. According to the U.S. ambassador in Seoul, the two partners are focusing their thoughts around three key ideas: diplomatic efforts, economic sanctions and implementing a robust defense system. These repeated threats are therefore serious enough for Washington to consider deploying missile batteries in the peninsula that are capable of intercepting short and medium-range weapons. Beyond these threats, the two developed nations will discuss closer cooperation, especially with regard to the economy, with Seoul still strongly voicing its request to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
*Editor’s note: The original quotation is attributable to Mark Lippert, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea.