North Korea’s international charm offensive continued on Monday with a statement from the official Korean Central News Agency promising that Japan will be swiftly covered by “nuclear clouds” and “engulfed in flames” if a war breaks out.
“Japan’s such rackets inciting the tension of the Korean peninsula is a suicidal deed that will bring nuclear clouds to the Japanese archipelago. No one knows when the touch-and-go situation will lead to a nuclear war, but if so, the Japanese archipelago will be engulfed in flames in a moment. This is too self-evident,” said the KCNA statement, as transcribed by Fox News.
The Japan Times explains the crack about Japanese “rackets” is a reference to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s contention that “dialogue will not work with North Korea” to resolve the nuclear missile crisis.
The North Koreans also insulted Abe as “running around the U.N. stage like a headless chicken,” a reference to his numerous meetings with world leaders to discuss the North Korean crisis at the U.N. General Assembly.
Fox News reports that a top Japanese government spokesman responded to North Korea’s threat by calling it “outrageous and provocative.”
Despite much speculation to the contrary, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Wednesday that Japan would not attempt to shoot down future ICBMs fired over Japan by North Korea.
“Whether it is Japan or any other country, I think that shooting down a ballistic missile could be construed as a military action. Unless you judge it is an attack on your own country, I think it is difficult to shoot down such missiles,” the Defense Minister said.
Abe spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump by phone on Wednesday. The two agreed that “dialogue for the purpose of dialogue” with North Korea would be “meaningless,” and that pressure should be maintained against the regime in Pyongyang. Trump and Abe are scheduled to hold a summit meeting on November 6 during President Trump’s visit to Asia.
Russia is going out of its way to make that pressure difficult to maintain, as Reuters reported on Wednesday. In essence, according to this analysis, Russia seeks to prevent the U.S. and its allies from gaining too much strength in Asia along its eastern flank while NATO is building up forces on the western flank.
The Russians remain convinced that the U.S. desires regime change in Pyongyang, which could result in a unified Korean Peninsula becoming a mighty U.S. ally on the Chinese and Russian border, possibly while saddling China and Russia with a massive refugee crisis. Moscow also believes North Korea’s march to nuclear missiles is irreversible at this point and has some sympathy for the Kim regime’s desire to protect itself from regime change with a nuclear umbrella.
To this end, Russia is helping North Korea with dramatically increased trade, illicit shipments of fuel, continued purchases of North Korean slave labor, and technical resources for the internet. Russia is also taking steps to fill the void as North Korea’s patron state as China steps back from the role.
The countdown is on for the next likely date for North Korean provocations: October 9, Columbus Day, which also happens to be the anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers Party of North Korea. “Stand by your phones,” advised CIA Korea Mission Center Deputy Assistant Director Yong Suk Lee at a conference on Wednesday. He did not speculate on what Pyongyang might do, but felt it would probably fall short of triggering a military confrontation, an eventuality Lee said dictator Kim Jong-un wishes to avoid.