In a unanimous decision, the United Nations Security Council on Monday tightened sanctions against North Korea after Russia, China and the US compromised on a watered-down agreement that cut North Korean exports by 90%, reducing the refined products available to North Korea by 44% and fuel by 30% - though it did not touch the North Korean oil trade.
But while the sanctions likely won’t halt the North’s nuclear program, they will likely render the Kim regime increasingly desperate – increasingly the possibility that the unthinkable could happen. With North Korea showing no signs of being open to talks with the US - as both Russia and China have repeatedly insisted – Russia has decided to test some of its most powerful weapons to make sure they work should geopolitical events take an unfortunate turn.
According to Russia Today, Russia successfully completed a test launch of a new RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile from a silo at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.
“The main purpose of the launch is to confirm the reliability of rockets of the same class. The warheads successfully reached their target – the Kura testing range in Kamchatka. All aims of the test were achieved,” said a statement from Russia’s Defense Ministry.
The RS-24 Yars, which is equipped with three to six warheads, can hit targets up to 12,000 kilometers away. It was first tested a decade ago, and has been in use by Russian forces for seven years. The solid-fuel rocket is an upgraded version of the Topol-M missile, and can be launched from both the ground and from a vehicle.
The testing was part of strategic drills announced earlier this month, according to Russia Today.
Previously, Russia tested a submarine-based Bulava ICBM in June, successfully targeting the same facility as in the latest test, located near the Pacific coast in Kura.
A test of its RS-28 Sarmat super-heavy thermonuclear missile could be held in October, TASS reported on Monday, citing a military source.
In the wake of the North’s repeated tests this year, Russia Today notes that tests of missile-defense systems by the US and missiles tests by both China and Russia have received unusually high levels of scrutiny, which is, of course, understandable: US ships have in recent months played chicken with their Chinese counterparts during “Freedom Operations” in the South China Sea. Not too long ago, US jets and their Russian counterparts were having dangerous near-misses in the airspace above Syria. Tensions – not just in North Korea – are rising.