This May 6th marks an important date for North Korea: The beginning of the four day Workers’ Party; a celebration of Kim Jong-un’s dictatorship. Since mid-February, Jong-un has ordered North Koreans to wake at 5:00 AM daily in order to prepare for the historic event. Everything–murals, streets, and even rockets–have been repaired, cleaned, and repainted.
But there is a much more sinister element that this May 6th brings: the credible threat that they will conduct their fifth test of a nuclear weapon.
Over the past few months, Kim Jong-un has conducted rapid-fire missile tests in order to tout a major military accomplishment during the first Workers’ Party congress in almost 40 years. This January, North Korea conducted their fourth nuclear test deep underground, sending rippling seismic shocks that were felt around Asia. In April, the country tested a long-range missile that could reach the US. Following that came submarine and short-range missile tests, and the announcement of nuclear warhead capabilities.
This increasing militarism isn’t something to take lightly, given Jong-un’s short temper and distaste for the western world. More than that, the instability of North Korean missiles could lead to the more likely scenario of a devastating accident, causing a large-scale humanitarian crisis or, worse, war.
The increasing hostility of North Korea is trying already strained US-China relations. In response to North Korea’s many United Nations violations, the US and South Korea are in talks of deploying THAAD, a missile defense system. A renewed Russia-China alliance stands firmly against increased US presence in the area. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “Relevant countries shouldn’t use Pyongyang’s acts as a pretext to increase their military presence on the Korean Peninsula.” In another sign of the rising tension, China refused a US aircraft carrier access to a routine port stop in Hong Kong.
As North Korea’s missile capabilities grow, so does their hostility to the outside world. If China dealt with the problem forcefully, then the US would not have to increase their military presence in the area. By using diplomatic, economic, or militaristic means, China could quickly stamp out the growing tension in the area. President Obama must pressure China to act decisively, and end once and for all Kim Jong-un’s dangerous antics.