Tensions between North and South Korea are ratcheting up again, with both sides making threats. The DPRK recently launched another satellite into orbit last month showcasing it’s increasing sophistication in rocket and satellite technology. As the country celebrated its newest achievement, the predators in Washington started viewing the situation with greater caution. As the DPRK’s potential weapons technology increases, so does their ability to resist pressure from the U.S. and its pro-imperialist allies.
The Kwangmyŏngsŏng-4 observation satellite is said to weigh an estimated 200 kilos. This weight is significant as it demonstrates an ability to launch larger payloads using their rocket technology. This new advancement means it’s technically possible for the DPRK to launch a significantly sized nuclear warhead to the west coast of the U.S. This fact is sufficient to place the imperialist block on alert.
Meanwhile, there was a recent hydrogen bomb test by the government in an underground facility. The H-bomb is a, “weapon deriving a large portion of its energy from the nuclear fusion of hydrogen isotopes.” The explosion was registered as 5.1 magnitude. The previous weapon tests were atomic bombs, not hydrogen. The difference between the two is important, as described by Live Science:
Fission bombs, like those used in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, work by splitting the nucleus of an atom. When the neutrons, or neutral particles, of the atom’s nucleus split, some hit the nuclei of nearby atoms, splitting them, too. The result is a very explosive chain reaction. The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki exploded with the yield of 15 kilotons and 20 kilotons of TNT, respectively…
In contrast, the first test of a thermonuclear weapon, or hydrogen bomb, in the United States in November 1952 yielded an explosion on the order of 10,000 kilotons of TNT. Thermonuclear bombs start with the same fission reaction that powers atomic bombs — but the majority of the uranium or plutonium in atomic bombs actually goes unused. In a thermonuclear bomb, an additional step means that more of the bomb’s explosive power becomes available.
With the combination of increased rocket range and explosive potential, the DPRK’s ability to strike back at the U.S. for any military aggression has increased dramatically. Previously, at best they could launch a fission bomb at the U.S.’s closest ally, Guam. These two advancements in technology are what have placed so much more concern in the minds of the imperialists. Essentially, the DPRK is improving its ability to defend itself. This is what is so abhorrent to the U.N.: the ability of an oppressed country to stand up for itself is unacceptable in the eyes of the imperialist powers.
At this same time, there has been a shuffling of cabinet in the DPRK government. It appears that the supreme leader of the country, Kim Jong Un, has been placing “hardliners” in key positions. Many of which are in the realm of national security. These men prefer a very confrontational stance against the U.S. and the South. It seems they’re the type to support stricter controls both socially and economically. Three of the most significant appointments have been Rim Kwang Il, Kim Yong Chol and Ri Myong Su.
Lieutenant-General Rim Kwang Il – is a lifelong military officer who has had command over front line elements in the KPA. Back in 2015 he was involved in the DMZ landmine deployments that lead to a crisis in August. He has been chosen to be Director of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) General Staff Operations Bureau. A position that wields a considerable degree of power.
General Kim Yong Chol – has been nominated WPK Secretary and Director of the United Front Department. It’s a civilian intelligence post that strategizes the North’s policies towards the South. It also has a great deal of control over the interactions between the North and South. In addition, he is a four star general and military intelligence official. Imperialist sources place accusations against him for alleged involvement in the 2010 sinking of the ROK submarine Cheonan, and cyber warfare against the South. On other occasions he’s engaged in inter-Korean talks during the period of 1991-92 and 2006-07.
General Ri Myong Su – has been placed as Chief of the KPA General Staff, replacing General Ri Yong Gil. In the past he served as Minister of People’s Security, as a National Defense Commission member, and Director of the KPA General Staff Operations Bureau. He also has experience in crisis management. Interestingly, he has been retired for the past two years, but now has been brought out into an important position. What is truly interesting about his appointment, is the fact that he has been a public face for the Son’gun (or military first) policy.
What we can definitely see is that people which much greater experience in dealing with confrontational politics are being placed in positions of greater power. It should also be recognised that these same men have held long standing support for the Kim family. many of them served under Kim Jong Il during the heyday of the Son’gun politics. The more aggressive, and anti-concession supporting officials are being placed back in command of the country.
In my view, something very significant is happening here. As the DPRK increases its ability to assert its independence militarily, the more aggressively they will push towards their goals. Those goals are almost always centered around a removal of sanctions, self-reliant energy supply, normalization of relations with Washington, acknowledgment of a right to self-determination, and a right to self-defense against imperialist aggression. The power of the DPRK is increasing as Mao Zedong so simply put it: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Kim Jong Un wants less engagement with the South to be replaced with demands. Demands, that in my view, shouldn’t have to be made.
The strategy by the DPRK has been magnificent. First, they placed a total emphasis on Son’gun in order to build up the necessary military power to defend themselves. This has taken the form of the fission bomb we’ve seen many times before. With it, they were able to possess a deterrent against imperialist invasion. once that was achieved they diverted resources away from military defense, and towards economic development. The hard times of the Arduous March were left behind as the living standards of the people was increased. Now new greater investment and development of weapons technology has placed the DPRK in a position where they may begin making the demands concerning their own destiny, as opposed to making threats if they can’t exercise it.
It would appear to me that Son’gun is making a return – but this time it is an aggressive stance, not a defensive one. The DPRK can now assert their independence rather than being forced to defend it. This signals a powerful change in the international politics of the DPRK. They are proving once again that nuclear weapons are the only thing the imperialists listen to. Mao was right: Political power does grow out of the barrel of a gun.