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Keeping Korean Peninsula on the Global Risk Radar in 2024

War in Ukraine, Gaza and a possible Taiwan Contingency has engaged the world in 2023 and is set to dominate the conflict and risk management space in the year ahead. Relatively the Korean Peninsula has not been receiving the degree of concern.

Yet given the widening geopolitical chasm and military, nuclear and missile activities by adversaries in this zone – North Korea officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with its powerful backers – China and Russia and the trilateral alliance of South Korea [Republic of Korea], United States and Japan. there is a necessity for constant monitoring of the developments on the Korean Peninsula in 2024.

North Korea taking advantage of the divide in global powers post Ukraine War has cozied up to Russia while continues with strong connect with China, thus gaining protection in the UN Security Council and other international bodies.

Taking this into consideration escalation – nuclear including a possible eighth test, missile and satellite proliferation can be anticipated in 2024.

This was evident with North Korea fired a long-range missile into the East Sea on a lofted trajectory on December 18. This is presumed to be the fifth intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch this year as per the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Earlier Hwasong-15 and Hwasong-17 ICBMs were firsed in February and March, respectively and test-fired a solid-fuel Hwasong-18 in April and conducted a second test in July.

This comes even as on September 09 and 10, North Koreaclaimed to have launched a tactical nuclear attack submarine indicating a second-strike capability.

“A new powerful entity has emerged to demonstrate the rapid development of the Juche-based naval force all over the world in the glorious journey of ushering in a new era of a great prosperous and powerful country with the world-renowned tremendous national defence capabilities, unprecedented in the nation-building history of the DPRK, under the outstanding leadership of the ever-victorious Workers' Party of Korea (WPK),” claimed a report on the website KCNA.KP which was carried by major North Korean media.

Simply stated this implied the launch of “a Korean-style tactical nuclear attack submarine….. for bolstering up the naval force of the DPRK….. to further strengthen the state nuclear deterrence both in quality and quantity and by leaps and bounds” ironically “for regional and global peace and security”.

North Korea claims that these developments are in line with its security concerns over escalation of tensions blamed on increasing the intensity of conventional activity and coordinated nuclear response planned by the United States, South Korea and Japan.

A demonstration of the same was reaction of the South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to the North Korean twin missile launch on 18 December. At an emergency NSC meeting, President Yoon Suk Yeol called for what he referred to as an “overwhelming” response to any possible attack from North Korea in close collaboration with the U.S.

With the hard line policy of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol more tensions can be anticipated as any conventional build up by South Korea and the US can see a North Korean nuclear or missile development response.

Although not mentioning the launches, North Korea’s main political and economic backer China expressed firm support for Pyongyang.

Thus, apart from the bilateral factors, multilateral issues are also being tested in the overall increase in possibility of tensions on the Korean peninsula. With limited action towards derisking tensions on the Korean peninsula,


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