fired an unknown type of missile on Sunday morning, which according to US and South Korean media, exploded within seconds of launch.
During the military parade in Pyongyang on Saturday, a date celebrated as the "Day of the Sun" in North Korea, the country displayed at least two new types of missiles, which seem to be intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). During this parade, North Korea rolled out more newly developed long-range attack weapons than on any other. But most of these missiles have not yet been tested. They left an impression that Pyongyang has achieved rapid progress in missile development; meanwhile, people are suspicious whether the weapons are just an empty threat.
Some speculated that Pyongyang would conduct a nuclear test on the Day of Sun, yet it did not happen. However, after the failure of the missile test Sunday, there is an increasing possibility that the nation will carry out its sixth nuclear test.
Pyongyang tends to carry out missile tests around major occasions to demonstrate its tough stance and to some extent, the missiles are fired as a political salute.
However, the latest test was different from previous ones in terms of timing. Over the years, the attitudes China and the US have over curbing nuclear activities in North Korea have become similar. Beijing has enhanced its sanctions against Pyongyang and the US recently launched a military strike against Syria and dropped a device known as the "mother of all bombs" on Afghan soil. US President Donald Trump
has declared publicly that Washington is prepared to deal with North Korea alone. All this is widely considered as an indication that the US may be preparing a military strike against Pyongyang. In the meantime, Pyongyang's parade and missile launch also displayed the country's determination to continue its nuclear and missile programs.
If the ball was in the court of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un
over the past two days, it has now been kicked to Trump. All the pressure the US has piled on North Korea before seemed to be ineffective. For the moment, Washington is confronting a new puzzle - ignoring Pyongyang or adopting stricter measures toward it?
Trump may not launch a military strike against North Korea any time soon given that such a move will risk Pyongyang's military revenge against Seoul. Facing the complexity in the region, the Trump government is not fully prepared for emergencies.
Washington might turn to Beijing and expect China to increase its sanctions against North Korea. If Pyongyang rolls out its nuclear test, the UN Security Council will pass new resolutions involving stricter sanctions against Pyongyang and Beijing will act accordingly. But it does not conform to China's consistent policy to go beyond the UN Security Council and impose new punishments on North Korea now.
Preventing Pyongyang from carrying out its sixth nuclear test is the top priority at the moment. North Korea should not think that it has once again broken through the pressure from the global community. If it continues to go its own way, sanctions from the international community will become more stringent and the US will seriously consider launching military strikes against it. If conflict does break out, Pyongyang will suffer the most.