What this means
North Korea has recurrently been the center of controversy ranging from their isolationist policies, propaganda against the West, and their military capacities.
This time, North Korea makes news again because of the later courtesy of quite a reliable source.
According to Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, states Korea could have the capacity of firing a missile loaded with sarin nerve gas. He told the parliamentary panel on national security and diplomacy, “There is a possibility that North Korea is already capable of shooting missiles with sarin as warheads.”
He was responding to a query posted about Japan’s readiness considering the increased level of tension in the region. The Japanese Prime Minister did not provide anything on how he got this information though. The tensions around the Korean Peninsula have risen in the recent days amid concern the North Korea4n government could be on the verge of going through with its sixth nuclear test. Then there is the fact a US aircraft carrier led strike group is en route to the area.
What this means
The implications of the suggestion need no lengthy explanations as to what they could mean for a densely populated urban area. The events in Syria over the past weeks are an excellent case study of what could happen. The Prime Minister emphasized that Japan should take the example seriously and stressed the need to strengthen its deterrence initiatives against North Korea5.
It is plausible, though, as North Korea6 is not a signatory to the International Chemical Weapons Convention, has been making chemical weapons since the 1980s, allegedly, and is not estimated to have about 5000 tons of massively destructive, weaponized material. The stockpile reportedly has 25 types of agents, including sarin.
The International Community has tried to subtly control the situation. For one, President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he told the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, that he would be able to get better trade terms from the United States if China were to assist in reining in the nuclear threats coming from Pyongyang. He tweeted, “Had a very good call last night with the President of China concerning the menace of North Korea7.”
Experts who have war-gamed the situation claim that if North Korea8 were to attack the South, it would most likely target the capital, Seoul, with biological and chemical weapons dropped from aircraft or delivered via missiles and artillery.Under the postwar constitution, Japan has limited the role pertaining to its military to self-defense only while relying on America for both offensive and nuclear capabilities. However, the ruling party in Japan proposed the country should strengthen its missile defense including upgrades to capabilities for shooting down enemy missiles and acquiring the capacity to attack the base from where it came from.
The United States has not yet ruled out a military solution to the situation, but it does not help that an aircraft carrier is bearing down on an already tense region. The allegations of sarin gas capabilities add fuel to a growing fire that could be the next major global conflict, and if true, should prompt all players to consider their next moves carefully for the coming weeks.