By Victor Cha —
- CSIS data on North Korea suggests the likelihood of a North Korean provocation after ROK legislative elections on April 13 and before the Korean Workers’ Party Congress in the first week of May.
- Historically, North Korea has responded with a missile or demilitarized zone (DMZ) provocation within an average seven-day span before or after the legislative election event (this finding excludes the sunshine policy period from 2000 to 2004.
- The domestic dynamic of establishing the North’s recognized nuclear weapons status in time for the Party Congress is also a driving causal factor.
- April 15 is the 104th birthday celebration of Kim Il-sung, which may present the need for an action.
- The provocation could take the form of a fifth nuclear test (commercial satellite imagery suggests that all preparations are complete, and that a test could happen without any forewarning). Or, it could take the form of a launch of one of North Korea as-yet untested mobile, medium and long-range ballistic missiles (Musudan, which could reach Guam, Hawaii; or the KN-08, KN-14, which could reach the West coast of the United States).
Dr. Victor Cha is senior adviser and Korea Chair at CSIS. He is also a professor of government at Georgetown University.