ASSESSMENTS

What’s Driving North Korea to Consider Resuming Banned Weapons Tests

MIN READJan 20, 2022 | 22:38 GMT

People at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, watch a television screen showing file footage of a North Korean missile test on Jan. 17, 2022.

People at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, watch a television screen showing file footage of a North Korean missile test on Jan. 17, 2022.

(JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

North Korea’s suggestion that it may resume long-range missile and nuclear tests risks renewing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, but it could also signal an opening bid for potential negotiations. At a Jan. 19 Politburo meeting, North Korean officials accused the United States of violating commitments from the 2018 leaders’ summits, and said Pyongyang would “promptly examine the issue of restarting all temporarily-suspended activities.” North Korean leaders made a similar threat in January 2020. The most recent comments followed two sets of missile tests: one focused on the North’s hypersonic missiles, and the other on rail-launched short-range tactical guided missiles. The unusual January missile tests, coupled with the Politburo comments, raise concerns that North Korea may resume testing long-range missiles and nuclear weapons, escalating tensions to levels last seen in 2016-17. There is a chance, however, that Pyongyang is using the review to position itself for the possible resumption of...

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