0f3fe233-cf3d-4d1b-b474-9139f0a1eed8.jpg

NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR PROGRAMME

In January 2016, North Korea announced that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb in its fourth nuclear test. In February 2016, it claimed that it had successfully launched an Earth satellite into orbit via a long-range carrier rocket. Again, September last year it claimed it conducted nuclear tests with a device with an explosive yield of between 10 and 30 kilotons. The world powers passed a new package of sanctions through the United Nation Security Council against North Korea's threats to international security.

There have been various attempts to agree disarmament deals with North Korea, but none of this has ultimately deterred its programme.

Questions have arisen about how Donald J. Trump will deal with North Korea as President, given his contradictory remarks on the subject during his campaign and his statement that protecting South Korea is not guaranteed and they should seek a nuclear programme of their own.  With the impeachment of the South Korean President Ms. Park, new presidential elections will take place in the coming months. One of the candidates isBan Ki-moon, the former United Nations Secretary General, who has appeared more to pursue dialogue with the Northern neighbours. There is a good possibility that the new President will opt for advancing the diplomatic routes with North Korea through China, the main trade partner of both North and South Korea. A new South Korean President may retract from hosting the advanced American missile defense system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. This can please china and present an opportunity to engage with North Korea. However, the unpredictability of President-Elect Trump policies in the region leave this issue open to different scenarios.

The worst scenario in 2017 is that economic sanctions and progress in the nuclear programme lead North Korea to launch an attack either against South Korea or the United States. This is certainly an issue to watch out for this year, if it escalates it will have serious and dire consequences.