North Korea Fallout
DPRK Missile Launch Empowers Regional Hawks

The U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea’s Sunday morning missile launch, but it’s not yet clear what concrete actions, if any, the Council will take. CNN:

At an emergency meeting Sunday, members of the U.N. Security Council “strongly condemned” the launch and reaffirmed that “a clear threat to international peace and security continues to exist, especially in the context of the nuclear test.”

Security Council members have previously threatened “further significant measures” if there was another North Korean launch and now will “adopt expeditiously a new Security Council resolution with such measures in response to these dangerous and serious violations,” according to a statement read by Venezuela’s ambassador to the United Nations after the meeting.

China could use its veto to block any Security Council sanctions on the DPRK. Yet that power is more of a burden than a blessing for Beijing, which has to balance its desire to limit both the U.S. military presence in the region and the hawkishness of its neighbors against its commitment to Pyongyang. Indeed, the most important consequence of the launch could be the deployment in South Korea of a missile defense system developed and managed by the United States. A spokeswoman in Beijing said China is “deeply concerned” by reports that Seoul and Washington are planning talks on the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system.

Sanctions (should they be proposed) and a missile defense system are not the only possible consequences of the missile launch. By scaring everybody and making cooperation with the U.S. and Japan look more attractive, North Korea’s move gives the current South Korean government a big boost in its efforts to handle the fallout over last December’s “comfort women” deal. Pyongyang’s bad behavior (and Beijing’s inability and/or refusal to control it) pushes politics in both South Korea and Japan to the right.

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