North Korea launched a long-range rocket last Sunday (7 February), claiming it was used to place a satellite into orbit. The act was widely regarded by other nations as a guise for ballistic missile testing, which North Korea is prohibited from conducting under United Nations sanctions. Reports suggest that the range of the missile fired was up to 13,800km, meaning it could reach the continental US.
The rocket launch drew significant backlash from the international community. The US Senate swiftly approved new financial sanctions against North Korea, while South Korea suspended operations at the Kaesong factory complex, a compound jointly run with its neighbour. After an urgent meeting, the UN Security Council said the rocket launch was a threat to world security and clear violation of UN resolutions. The Security Council is already considering tougher sanctions over North Korea’s fourth nuclear test a few weeks ago.
The situation became complicated as China, a major ally of Pyongyang, only expressed a subtle statement of regret over the incident. Beijing worries that further sanctions would push North Korea towards political and economic collapse, and has expressed deep concerns over the US’ intent to deploy an advanced missile-defence shield in South Korea, warning that such a move would only escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
What is the significance of North Korea’s latest rocket launch? Should the UN Security Council adopt tougher sanctions against North Korea? What is the best strategy to build sustainable peace in the Korean Peninsula? Whatever your view, send it in - via Twitter, Facebook or our website. If you would like to learn more about the issue, here are a few useful articles: