North Korea’s Chessboard: Analyzing Strategic Moves For 2024

by Nazia Sheikh
Since his diplomatic efforts with Trump collapsed in 2019 over disagreements over the amount of sanctions relief the North could receive in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear program, Kim has directed his efforts into upgrading his nuclear arsenal. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un advocated for increasing his nation’s armaments stockpile throughout 2023. He intends to bolster his military more in 2024 while expressing the threat to either attack South Korea or destroy the United States. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has emphasized his nation’s commitment to enhancing its military power as global tensions continue to rise. He recently declared that North Korea will produce more nuclear weapons in 2024 and launch three military spy satellites. North Korea’s intention to improve its surveillance capabilities is demonstrated by its desire to launch military spy satellites. The country hopes to strengthen its defenses and more quickly and effectively address any possible threats by obtaining more accurate and current intelligence. Kim Jong-un emphasizes the need to proceed quickly with the development of comprehensive military response capabilities, citing the “grave situation” and the necessity of properly responding to any provocations from their enemies. This action is viewed as a calculated tactic to protect the country’s sovereignty and keep up a forceful deterrent against any prospective threats. Analysts estimated that North Korea will continue to use military force to try to gain more clout in the run-up to the US presidential elections in November, which may see the return of former president Donald Trump, who exchanged historic diplomacy and threats with Mr. Kim. While the US government of President Joe Biden maintains that negotiations are welcome, further restrictions were implemented in response to North Korea’s continued testing of prohibited missiles. In the region of the Korean Peninsula, the US also stepped up drills and sent out more military equipment, including big aircraft carriers and nuclear-armed submarines. According to Mr. Kim, the reappearance of such weapons could not be ignored and had turned South Korea into a “forward military base and nuclear arsenal” for the United States. Mr. Kim also stated that he has no alternative but to move forward with his nuclear aspirations and establish closer ties with other nations that disagree with the US. He added that”If we look closely at the confrontational military actions by the enemy forces, the word ‘war’ has become a realistic reality and not an abstract concept.”
Looking ahead to 2024, it seems that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will persist in projecting a more threatening posture towards Japan, South Korea, and the United States. In addition to developing new delivery systems, North Korea is getting ready to increase its nuclear weapon output. In 2024, Pyongyang will likely carry out more missile drills and even a nuclear test explosion to collect test data for improving the weaponry’s reliability and effectiveness. In addition, North Korea’s emphasis on growing its nuclear arsenal demonstrates its commitment to maintaining a strong deterrent. The international community has long expressed alarm over the nation’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Along with that, It is also needed to acknowledge Kim Jong-un’s insistence on retaining a strong military posture. In adherence to a time-honored strategy, the North Korean government may choose to synchronize some of its weapons tests with the parliamentary elections in South Korea in April 2024 and the U.S. presidential election in November 2024, aiming to instill fear in its adversaries and potentially prompt negotiations. Pyongyang has already conducted tests on solid-fuel rockets with the capability to carry a nuclear payload across the entirety of the United States. To escalate the level of shock, North Korea could opt for a riskier approach by launching a long-range missile along a predominantly horizontal trajectory, directing it into a remote sector of the Pacific Ocean. However, such a move carries inherent risks, as it might lead the U.S. and its allies to commit to intercepting future missile test flights. Hence, the Korean Peninsula appears destined to persist in a negative spiral of geostrategic tensions in the upcoming year. Central to the Kim governance model is an unwavering emphasis on regime security, often to the detriment of political pluralism and the overall prosperity of the nation. North Korea has consistently exhibited a resilient ability to navigate through decades of challenges. While a change or collapse of the regime is inevitable at some juncture, potentially leading to a profound transformation in North Korea’s external relations, the likelihood of such an event occurring in any given year, including 2024, remains low. With these recent events, the international community must take a balanced stance when discussing North Korea’s actions. It is critical to comprehend the underlying motivations and security considerations behind the regime’s policies, rather than seeing them as merely aggressive actions. It is still a difficult task to find an appropriate equilibrium between North Korean sovereignty and global security. The international community must recognize that North Korea needs strong defensive measures but yet make a concerted effort to engage in diplomatic initiatives, foster discussion, and look for paths toward peace. In the end, everyone concerned must work to develop mutually beneficial agreements that protect the security and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the surrounding area.

Nazia Sheikh

Nazia Sheikh is a Research Officer at Centre for International Strategic Studies, AJK. Her research area is Arms Control and Disarmament.

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Center for International Strategic Studies AJK, King Abdullah Campus Chatter kalas Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir