By Zhao Ziqing
As the US-DPRK dialogue came to a deadlock and the DPRK-ROK relation stagnated, Pyongyang recently announced its successful test firing of an ultra-large rocket gun. After it slashed at Washington and Seoul at the 18th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement in Baku, capital city of Azerbaijan, Pyongyang made its stance clear through “concrete actions” and demanded the US and ROK to provide specific measures to mend their relations. The situation of the Korean peninsula is in an important period and all parties should display good faith and walk toward each other to maintain the hard-won stability and ease of tension.
Successful test launching of rocket gun
The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the ROK released a statement on October 31 that at 16:35 and 16:38 that day, DPRK launched two unidentified projectiles from its South Pyongan’s Sunch’on to eastern waters off the peninsula, with a flying range of about 370km and a height of 90km.
The ROK and US intelligence departments were analyzing the projectiles’ parameters and ROK military was closely watching DPRK’s movements on a high alert. Considering that DPRK might make a second launch, the ROK military was tracking and monitoring its movements closely. Japanese Defense Ministry estimated the projectiles to be ballistic missiles that finally landed on sea waters outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Pyongyang soon confirmed the news. Korean Central News Agency reported on November 1 that the DPRK National Defense Academy had successful test firing of ultra-large rocket gun on the afternoon of October 31, with the aim of verifying the “stability of its continuous firing system”.
After listening to the military assessment report on the test launching, DPRK’s top leader Kim Jong-un expressed his great satisfaction. Korean Central News Agency also pointed out that the test firing verified the integrity of the continuous firing system, and the ultra-large rocket gun system is able to launch surprise attacks that will “raze group targets or designated areas of the enemy troops”. The system, coupled with the newly developed tactically guided weapons, will be the key weaponry of the Korean People’s Army to curb and defeat any threat from the enemy.
The test firing flexed muscles and sent messages
ROK media’s statistics showed that this was yet another projectile launch by Pyongyang after 29 days, the 12th time this year, and the third test firing of ultra-large rocket gun after the ones on August 24 and September 10.
The DPRK has not been on good terms with either the US or the ROK recently. Its negotiations with the US have made no progress, and the two sides’ work discussions at Sweden’s capital city Stockholm on October 5 failed to yield an agreement.
At the 18th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement in late October, Choe Ryong Hae, President of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People's Assembly, gave a speech on the peninsular situation and DPRK-US and DPRK-ROK relations. He described the peninsular situation as at a critical crossroad of opting for permanent peace and development or going back to tension and confrontation.
According to the DPRK’s high-ranking official, the stagnation of relation between Pyongyang and Washington and the vicious cycle of tension and deterioration on the peninsula was totally caused by America’s insistence on inappropriate and hostile policies toward the DPRK and its constant political and military provocations, adding that any talk about denuclearization will only be possible when the US abandons its policy of hostility and subversion and adopts feasible measures. Receiving no response to its calls, Pyongyang test-fired the ultra-large rocket gun to send its messages through the use of power.
DPRK has taken flexible measures to make a breakthrough in its relations with the US ever since the first “Trump-Kim Summit”, which, however, hasn’t been reciprocated by the US as Washington not only continued the joint military exercises with Seoul, but also stepped up its sanctions against Pyongyang. That is an important reason why Pyongyang has kept test-firing various missiles and rocket guns this year.