North Korea may conduct a new missile test on October 18, the beginning of China’s 19th Party Congress, as an opportunity to act out amidst the growing tensions in the region.
“The Kim regime usually uses these sorts of occasions to demonstrate some show of strength — in this current climate a missile test is a likely result,” said Dr Genevieve Hohnen, lecturer in politics and international relations at Edith Cowan University.
Last month, Beijing announced its intention to restrict trade with North Korea on several key items, including textiles, seafood and petroleum products, in compliance with the U.N.’s latest resolution. As such a missile test would be a show of strength, intended to make North Korea’s big neighbor to decisively pick a side.
This might prove especially prudent, considering the fact that US Navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on October 10, to which Beijing reacted negatively, calling it a “provocation”.
The US are increasing their presence in the region, wary of the fact that the new missile may be able to reach the US West Coast, according to russian lawmaker Anton Morozov fresh from a visit to North Korea. The reports came amid sending of USS Michigan nuclear-powered submarine to port in South Korea, and setting up of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Systems (THAAD) in the region.
Despite North Korean threats to shoot down American planes flying near the Korean Peninsula outside of the country’s airspace border, the US and South Korean planes are still conducting reconnaissance.