North Korea has demonstrated its determination to up the ante in its confrontation with the world community by attempting to fire a missile from its east coast on May 31. It exploded shortly after liftoff– an unusual streak of flops even by the checkered standards of North Korea.This was the latest in a string of unsuccessful ballistic missile tests as the country tries to advance its weapons program in defiance of the United Nations and great powers, including its regional ally China and friendly neighbor Russia – both countries joining other UN Security Council (UNSC) members in strong condemnation of the tests. The UNSC unanimously adopted a resolution in March considered to be the toughest sanctions package in history imposed on the defiant country.
Pyongyang claimed to have successfullytested a submarine-launched ballistic missile in April and released photos of the launch at the time.
The apparent success of the submarine-launched ballistic missile, along with the completion of North Korea’s first launch-capable ballistic missile submarine, is ample cause for concern anywhere within intermediate range. Additionally, there's the KN-08mobile intercontinental ballistic missilebeing developed by North Korea.
Indeed, tensions in Northeast Asia have been running high since Pyongyangconducted its fourth nuclear test in January and followed that with a satellite launch and test launches of various missiles.
The decision is a clear sign that the North Korean actions have triggered an arms race in the region. It happens against the background of US presidential candidate DonaldTrump making statements that he would not rule out a US withdrawal from East Asia, and would consider the possibility of both South Korean and Japan going nuclear – so they would be able to defend themselves without American assistance.
Four of the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s six Aegis destroyers are currently equipped with BMD-capable SM-3 interceptors. Japan will upgrade two more by fiscal year 2018. In addition, two more Aegis ships will be procured by fiscal year 2020 to increase the total to eight. The current SM-3 interceptors are based on the Block 1A system. Japan and the United States are jointly developing the Block 2A system, which will have an increased interception range.