Friday’s nuclear test has erased any doubt that North Korea is serious about its nuclear program. But aside from fear-mongering and posturing — just what does North Korea hope to achieve?
Rather than a bargaining chip used to gain more foreign aid or access to the world stage, it appears that the country’s nuclear weapons program boils down to a matter of dignity and national pride.
First off, the latest nuclear test was timed to coincide with North Korea’s National Day on September 9. In the statement from North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Institute announcing the operation, it said it would continue to develop its weapons for “safeguarding its dignity and right to existence and genuine peace.”
It blamed the “racket of threat and sanctions against the DPRK kicked up by the US-led hostile forces… to find fault with the sovereign state’s exercise of the right to self-defense.”
Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the East Asia Nonproliferation Program (EANP) stated: “For years, we have mocked their nuclear and missile capabilities and 2016 seems to really be about demonstrating what they have and what they can do.”
“Clearly [North Korea doesn’t] care about what we think,” Christopher Hill, the former US ambassador to South Korea told CNN. “They don’t care about our admonitions. They don’t care about joining the international community… they certainly don’t care about the UN Security Council resolutions.”
Hill says there needs to be something more to bring about any change with Kim’s regime. “I think we need to sit down with the Chinese… and say, ‘Together we need to solve this,'” he said.