On November 18, North Korea launched an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) with the unnerving capability of hitting the continental United States. The latest test launch is one in a string of short- and medium-range as well as ICBM firings and the second ICBM launch this month. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, has been particularly testy over this month’s US and South Korean combined exercises. Kim has shown his displeasure at the military maneuvers in the south by threatening to resume nuclear testing and demonstrating the DPRK’s nuclear-capable missile capacity.
A US State Department press statement expressed outrage over the latest unleashing of the North Korean missile.
“The United States condemns the DPRK’s ballistic missile launch. This launch is a clear violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions and demonstrates the threat the DPRK’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs pose to the DPRK’s neighbors, the region, international peace and security, and the global non-proliferation regime…Our commitments to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remain ironclad.”
The word “ironclad” seems quite popular at the White House. You may recall a recent Reuters report that said, “Biden told Duda [Poland’s president] in a call that Washington has an ‘ironclad commitment to NATO’ and will support Poland’s investigation.” This followed an errant missile landing in Poland. Not to be outdone, the Pentagon, too, expressed its support for Poland, asserting “US commitment to the common defense is ironclad.”
North Korea Threat Doesn’t Merit New Description
Except for four minor word changes and an unnecessary comma in the November 18 statement, Foggy Bottom issued precisely the exact wording, including “ironclad,” condemning the Nov. 2 missile launch from the DPRK. It seems when the Biden administration wants to really, really emphasize a policy, the ferrous metal metaphor does the trick. Using the same words over and over, regardless of context, and not bothering to change public statements on what one would think are critical issues does not inspire confidence that the Biden administration takes global threats seriously. Are Kim’s testing of nuclear-capable missiles – missiles that now put the entire US homeland at risk – becoming passé for the keepers of US foreign policy?
Pyongyang’s most recent ICBM is considered the most capable in the arsenal of North Korea. Evidence suggests the ordinance was a Hwasong-17 missile with an extended range. “Kwon Yong Soo, a former professor at Korea National Defense University in South Korea, said he believes North Korea tested a developmental Hwasong-17 missile,” the Associated Press reports, “which he said can carry three to five nuclear warheads and fly as far as 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles).” Though there is no evidence Kim’s military has been able to integrate a nuclear weapon into the ICBM, having a launch vehicle with the capability of the Hwasong-17 puts the Kim regime on a path to a devastating weapon.
Failed Border Czar Assures Allies of Support
In addition to the State Department press release, the US swore to use every means to ensure the safety of Indo-Pacific allies and friends in a show of apparent resolve. These were the sentiments relayed by US Vice President Kamala Harris, meeting with Australian, Canadian, Japanese, and New Zealand leaders participating in a regional conference in Bangkok discussing the DPRK missile launch. “We strongly condemn these actions, and we again call for North Korea to stop further unlawful, destabilizing acts…On behalf of the United States, I reaffirm our ironclad commitment to our Indo-Pacific alliances,” Harris told the meeting attendees. You just don’t get stronger, ironclad statements from the stunningly unsuccessful US Border Czar.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
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