North Korea's Provocations Unparalleled
"I think that this particular test, while falling short of an ICBM demonstration, ought be seen as a technological advance."
"If North Korea is getting solid rocket motors right, then that really is a potential step function to making it harder for the United States to target these things on the ground, because they're more mobile. Moreover, if they can get the motors right, and they stack them and configure them with other motors in a multi-stage configuration, you may already have the pieces of an ICBM laying on the ground, even if they've not been tested altogether yet."
Tom Karako, senior fellow, International Security Program, director, Missile Defense Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies
"[Trump will have] a truly consequential decision."Appeals to China in the past to do something to dissuade their North Korean friends have had little effect in giving Kim Jong-Un second thoughts about his continued demonstrations of his nation's dedication to what it insists is its preventive strategy. A show of force and military might meant to demonstrate that North Korea is capable of matching any other nations' advanced weaponry solely in its defence, for no offensive purposes whatever.
"Trump is going to have to face a truly fateful decision about whether we're prepared to live with that, a North Korea that has that capability against us, or we are going to use military force one way or another to destroy their nuclear missile capability."
Richard Has, president, Council on Foreign Relations
Kim Jong-Un's propensity to braggadocio and conspicuously alarming ballistic missiles and nuclear tests reflecting his volatile temperament and fanatical need to shock and alarm his neighbours with the threat of how far an unhinged and paranoid psychopath can push international alarm bells is a cause for concern even for the Chinese. Reflective of the reality that even China's ruling elites have little sway over Kim's whims.
The latest ballistic missile send-off was declared a roaring success by North Korea. And there can be little doubt that Kim is gloating with pleasure at the success of his latest message to the United States that a new president can do no more to set back his plans that North Korea be recognized as a 'world power' than his predecessors, all of whom tried reason, and threats, sanctions and offers to provide the hermit kingdom with energy and food in exchange for cooperation, to no avail.
The fact is, North Korean scientists, under the whip wielded by their Dear Leader, and spurred on by pride of accomplishment as well, have succeeded amazingly well in producing the technical thrust leading to more powerful nuclear devices and farther-ranging ICBMS. The latter cannot yet reach as far as the U.S. Pacific coast, but it can and does threaten the estimated 80,000 American servicemen in range, as well as American allies Japan and South Korea.
"The hardest thing to get the North Koreans to trade away were always the capabilities they already had. They were often willing to not do things. But getting them to give something up that they've already done tends to be much harder. These things went from potential bargaining chips to real capabilities that they don't want to give up."
"It's not a guarantee, but it's a really important step [A long0range ICBM that might convince the U.S. to de-escalate in any potential conflict]."
"It's the straw that stirs the drink. If we get any bright ideas about rolling into Pyongyang, they have this retaliatory capability. And that really enables them to use their theater capabilities much more aggressively because we're not going to want to escalate. So if they have an ICBM capability that they can rely upon, it could be very destabilizing."
Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, director, East Asia Nonproliferation Program, Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Monterrey, California
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