Kim Jong-un regime apparently wants to demonstrate its determination to the US after the failed Hanoi summit. At the same time, the country is heading for a new famine.
Just a few days after the second summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi was prematurely and inconclusively halted, several authorities reported suspicious activity on the North Korean Tongchang-ri North Korean rocket facility. From there, North Korea launched long-range missiles and rocket engines were tested in the facility. Both the South Korean intelligence agency NIS and two American think tanks specializing in North Korea reported new building activity on the plant.
The US website “38 North” and the satellite reconnaissance project “Beyond Parallel” of the Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) want to have seen a “rapid reconstruction” of infrastructure at the rocket launch pad. Apparently, the North Koreans were determined to demonstrate their resolve after the US rejected its demand to lift economic sanctions in Hanoi.
Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton has even threatened the regime in Pyongyang this week with a further tightening of sanctions: “If the North Koreans are unwilling to give up their nuclear weapons program and everything that goes with it, there will be no relief from the crushing economic sanctions. but we will tighten the tightening screw even tighter, “said the foreign policy agitators to the TV channel Fox Business News.
While North Korean officials said after the failure of the Hanoi summit that Kim and Trump were determined to continue their dialogue, Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui questioned the meaning of further talks: Leader Kim could lose his will to negotiate a deal with Trump.
Construction activities at the Tongchang-ri rocket facility, which was shut down in Singapore in August 2018 following the first summit of Trump and Kim in Singapore, could be another warning signal to the Americans.
The regime has itself acknowledged that international punitive measures make it hard for North Korea and its people. In a memorandum to the UN, the North Korean leadership blamed the “barbaric and inhuman sanctions” on the weather, as well as weather caprices for the country’s dramatically escalating food shortages. Last year, a heat wave, hurricanes, and floods caused North Korea to record the lowest harvest in ten years.
According to the UN this week, around 3.8 out of the 25 million North Koreans are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Such aid is actually exempted from the UN sanctions regime. But due to restrictive interpretations of the prohibitions on banking and transport transactions, the delivery of humanitarian aid has practically come to a standstill. Already in the mid-1990s, famine and mismanagement had claimed 200,000 hunger pangs, according to international estimates, and 2.5 million famine deaths, according to international estimates.
Although large parts of the population have chronically under-served food, they are allowed to “vote” next Sunday. There are elections to the Supreme Assembly – formally “the highest organ of state power,” as in other communist states, but a pure renunciation of all those decisions that were previously made in the ranks of the almighty “Party of Labor”. Not voting is considered a “political offense” according to North Korean defectors.