Last week’s reports of North Korea preparing to fire four missiles into the waters off the coast of Guam appear to have been a bit hasty, as today, North Korea’s official news agency revealed that the “plan” was finalized, and sent to Kim Jong-un, and is on hold pending his approval.
Last week the reports gave the impression that the plans would be put into action more or less immediately on being completed, and a launch was expected mid-week this week. Official reports, however, say Kim hasn’t decided on the plan at all, and wants to watch US actions longer before making a decision.
Now, instead of the missile fire being just the next in a series of tit-for-tat escalations in rhetoric and action between the two countries, the report suggests that the plan is something North Korea is holding in its back pocket “if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions.”
Anything seen as a step back from further escalation is necessarily problematic for either side to make at this point, as both have invested heavily in the narrative that they’re not going to be the first to back down, and while not firing the rockets may be a chance for North Korea to calm things down, it may also provoke some new mocking from the US, and any suggest from US officials that the lack of missile fire was a sign of North Korean weakness is almost certain to provoke a new round of tensions.