North Korea’s 2nd ICBM test augurs a new normal

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — For all its bluster and over-the-top propaganda, North Korea often does just what it says it will do when it comes to its weapons development.

So it goes with its lightning-quick push to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile. The clear message after Friday’s late-night test, the second in a month of a missile that may be able to reach most of the U.S. mainland: Get used to this — it’s the new normal.

So what exactly does that mean?

From the West’s point of view, it portends more and scarier missile and nuclear tests, each one more powerful than the last; a dogged determination by the North to ignore, as it has for decades, financial sanctions and other outside pressure, including a slightly more forceful clampdown from its biggest enabler, China; and an increasing likelihood that a determined, unchecked North Korea will soon turn its rhetoric about being capable of nuking America’s heartland into a reality.

All this is meant to force the United States to accept terms that Pyongyang favors: a formal end to the Korean War that would remove U.S. forces from the Korean Peninsula, weaken ties between Seoul and Washington, and make it much more likely that the North’s ultimate dream of a Korea united under its rule comes true.

Outsiders have long dismissed or ignored North Korea’s atomic boasts and propaganda, even as they’ve failed through sanctions, threats and isolation to hinder the North’s progress. It remains to be seen whether an effort led by a Trump administration distracted by political infighting can rise to the most serious challenge yet in what has been a decades-long nuclear standoff.

To see exactly what North Korea is aiming for, just read its propaganda.

The North promised a stream of missile “gift packages” for the United States after its first ICBM test on July 4. Then on Saturday, hours after its second test of the Hwasong-14, the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, was quoted as saying by the North’s official Korean Central…

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