Analysis: North Korea’s Rocket
North Korea’s rocket launch could be an opportunity for regional cooperation in Northeast Asia despite ongoing territorial disputes. Will it be lost amid leadership transitions?
North Korea’s Rocket Launch: Opportunity For Regional Cooperation? – Analysis
North Korea’s rocket launch could be an opportunity for regional cooperation in Northeast Asia despite ongoing territorial disputes. However will the opportunity be lost amid the leadership transitions in China, Japan and South Korea?
By Sarah Teo
On December 12, North Korea successfully launched a rocket to put a working satellite in orbit. According to Pyongyang, the launch is “an important occasion of putting the country’s technology for the use of space for peaceful purposes on a new, higher stage”. The United States and its Northeast Asian allies, however, see the launch as a cover for a ballistic missile test in violation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
Domestically, a successful launch would shore up North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s legitimacy and placate a potentially restive military following a speculated reshuffling of its top ranks. Externally, the launch may influence the ongoing leadership changes in North Korea’s neighbouring states. Importantly, Pyongyang’s move may be perceived as a sign that the Kim regime is unlikely to back away from its missile and nuclear programmes.
Opportunity For Regional Cooperation
Notwithstanding the recent tensions in the region over maritime territorial and historical disputes, the insecurities generated by the North Korean rocket launch and its larger nuclear ambition may be an opportunity for the Northeast Asian states to engage in regional cooperation.