The last weeks of 2019 came to an end with North Korea reportedly having informed the United States to prepare for an ominous “Christmas gift” of sorts, to be received as early as December. This veiled threat is believed to have been issued to the United States in an effort by the rogue regime to posture for more lenient options in terms of nuclear deals before the conclusion of the 2019 calendar year. Now that Christmas is over and 2020 is upon us, South Korea and the United States are on full tactical alert in anticipation of North Korea’s next move.
This threat has reportedly been taken very seriously by U.S military officials, who have deployed spy planes missions on tactical reconnaissance routes around the Korean Peninsula to monitor North Korea’s activities. Officials in South Korea as well as key policy advisors within the Trump administration are anticipating missile testing from North Korea.
Top-secret intelligence reporting gleaned from such indicators as tactical drone surveillance operations and satellite imagery have shown weapon components traveling to and from various missile sites in North Korea in recent days. While it remains unclear as to exactly what actions North Korea is planning on undertaking, US Air Force commander General Charles Brown believes the so-called ‘gift’ will be a long-range missile test.
In comments issued at a breakfast held by the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C on 24 DEC 2019, General Brown stated “What I would expect is some type of long-range ballistic missile to be ‘the gift.’ North Korea has stated that it has implemented two tests in recent weeks as development for an anticipated launch of some sort. Also on Tuesday 24 DEC, President Trump stated that the ‘gift’ is something his administration is ready to receive, whatever it may be. “Maybe it’s a present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test,” Trump told reporters when asked about North Korea’s statement.
North Korea also recently conducted a rare 4-day preparation ruling party conference comprising high ranking officials. During the conference, Kim accused the Trump administration of delay tactics in recent nuclear negotiations and referred to U.S. sanctions as “gangster like.” Some analysts speculate that peace talks may have effectively ended with the U.S.
On 01 JAN 2020, in place of his customarily delivered New Year’s Address that sets its policy plans for its country, North Korea instead opened 2020 by issuing a “Report on the Fifth Plenary Meeting of the Seventh Central Committee of the Workers.” This document consisted of an almost 4,400-word text outlining Kim Jong Un’s post-ruling notes. There was no speech as of afternoon local time and the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency said there was no indication that one would be coming. Kim had delivered a televised address every year since 2013 and speculation was building for months about what he might say hours after the expiration of his year-end deadline for U.S. President Donald Trump to ease up on sanctions. Kim used footage from the meeting to transmit speak directly to his people and to the world community. Hey pressed in no uncertain terms that he was no longer bound by his pledge to halt major missile tests and would soon debut a “new strategic weapon,” adding to Trump’s foreign policy concerns as he seeks re-election this year.
Duyeon Kim, who is a senior adviser on Nuclear Policy and Northeast Asia strategy considerations at the International Crisis Group, interpreted Kim’s message as “measured, calculated and quite calm.”
Kim Jong Un also did not specifically clarify what “new path” he was alluding to for 2020, however North Korean state television may have provided a telltale hint by broadcasting clips of missiles launching into the sky over hour-long looped video feeds of the meeting. Weapons included in the footage comprised of missiles fired from mobile launchers as well as a rocket being fired from what appeared to be an underwater platform.