Downplaying North Korea’s Missile Tests Carries Political and Strategic Risks

Author: 
Publication Date: 
June 2019
Description: 

East Asia Forum

Project: 
Nuclear Past, Present and Future Project

North Korea test-fired short-range ballistic missiles in early May 2019, marking the country’s first missile tests in 18 months. US President Donald Trump is downplaying the tests’ importance, refusing to call them a violation of UN Security Council resolutions that ban North Korea from taking part in ballistic missile activities.

Missiles are seen launched during a military drill in North Korea, 10 May 2019 (Photo: Korean Central News Agency via Reuters).
This may be intended to indicate US commitment to diplomacy with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but it carries significant risks by allowing North Korea to achieve strategic and political gains.