Putin-Kim meeting at Vostochny Cosmodrome: Does Putin use strategic nuclear capabilities with a ‘new approach’?
Published: Sep 14, 2023 09:37 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's top leader Kim Jong-un speak during their meeting at the Vostochny Spaceport, Russia, on September 13, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's top leader Kim Jong-un speak during their meeting at the Vostochny Spaceport, Russia, on September 13, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

The US was apparently shocked by the significance of the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Vostochny Cosmodrome. 

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the US State Department expressed concerns that North Korea may use satellite technology for the development of ballistic missiles. They also stated that Russia and North Korea's cooperation could violate United Nations Security Council resolutions, and that the US "won't hesitate" to impose sanctions. Westerners, especially Europeans, are concerned about whether North Korea will provide Russia with artillery and ammunition stockpiles. The US, on the other hand, is afraid of North Korea obtaining Russian rocket technology.

North Korea is believed to have achieved the miniaturization of nuclear warheads and has announced its ability to strike the US mainland. However, in the eyes of the US, the reliability of North Korea's nuclear warheads is greater than the reliability of its intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities, so the US has never been very concerned about North Korea's ability to threaten its homeland.

However, once North Korea obtains Russian "satellite launch rocket technology," the situation may change significantly. In the past four months, North Korea has twice attempted to launch military reconnaissance satellites, both of which were declared failures, leading the US to believe that North Korea's carrier rocket technology is still immature. 

However, space launch rocket technology is very similar to the long-range projection technology of intercontinental ballistic missiles, which naturally worries the US. 

Once North Korea obtains reliable satellite launch technology, it will be able to produce intercontinental ballistic missiles as reliable as Russia's Topol-M missiles, which will create a completely different situation. In that case, North Korea will be able to include the entire US territory within its reliable strike range, and its ability to confront the US will fundamentally increase, which would mean a complete loss of control for the US.

Putin's decision to hold the meeting with Kim at the Vostochny Cosmodrome was a deliberate arrangement, and it was made for the US to see. In other words, the more anxious Washington is, the happier Moscow will be. Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the US, said in response to the US threat to tighten sanctions that "in the conditions of thousands of existing restrictions, it is unlikely that local Russophobes will find anything else that could hurt our interests." Indeed, the US has almost exhausted its tricks, and Kim's visit to the Vostochny Cosmodrome has greatly shocked Washington.

The US uses the United Nations resolutions to corner and lecture Russia and North Korea, but it won't have any real effect. It's almost about life and death, so what rules are there to talk about? If the US must let Russia, a nuclear power, suffer a complete defeat because it has "no artillery shells to use" on the battlefield in Ukraine, then Russia's strategic nuclear technology may eventually "come in handy." The meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome demonstrates a new way of thinking about Russia's use of strategic capabilities. What I am worried about is that as the confrontation continues to develop toward the extreme, all kinds of unexpected imaginations and practices may be forced out.

The author is a Chinese media professional. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn