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North Korea Launches First Short Range Missile of 2021

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Presumably, for the first time since President Biden has taken office, North Korea has launched a short-range missile that landed harmlessly into the ocean, according to multiple officials with knowledge of the situation. 

A short range missile launch isn’t the most surprising thing that North Korea has done in recent years, but it’s certainly a wake-up call to the new administration because relations were generally improved when President Trump was engaging with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un in the latter months of his term. 

This short range missile launch comes just a few days after officials declared that no ongoing conversations were happening with North Korea because they were receiving no ‘response’ from them. North Korea only put out a short statement, notifying the Biden administration to ‘avoid creating a stink’ in relations. 

It’s been nearly two years since President Trump and Kim Jong-un met in Vietnam to try and arrange a denuclearization agreement. Unsurprisingly, things didn’t work out although a flurry of ‘love letters’ apparently flowed between the White House and North Korea in the following months. This apparently provided a faint signal of positive relations between the two leaders, but it’s quite unclear if the same type of relationship would be possible with Joe Biden in office for the next four years. 

President Biden’s administration faces a major foreign policy test with the news of this short range missile test. North Korea is likely trying to gauge where Joe Biden stands on his North Korean policy and what types of actions he will take to address North Korea during a global pandemic. 

Biden did not have a lot of comments regarding the missile launch, and called the situation ‘business as usual’ during a short interview with the media. While Biden is correct in describing the missile launch as a ‘minor provocation’ from North Korea, it should serve as a wakeup call considering how long it’s been since the last provocative action under the Trump administration. 

Only time will tell if North Korean relations with the United States remains stable, but it’s entirely possible that China will play a significant role in how those relationships develop under a Biden administration. 

Biden could create a hazardous situation if he resumes joint military exercises with South Korea on the Korean peninsula. This is an action that regularly frustrates North Korea and it generally results in a large collection of missile launches. It could be wise to steer away from these exercises, considering that it appeared to be a policy that calmed down military activity on the peninsula from all parties involved.

If North Korea continues to take provocative actions and doesn’t make positive contact with the Biden administration, there could be a serious situation developing between the two countries. This short-range missile launch is almost like an exam for President Biden’s administration to navigate through. There could be a flurry of missile launches coming from North Korea in the coming months if anybody makes a miscalculation within the administration.  

 

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