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While most of the countries remain concentrated on the Ukrainian crisis, there is a possibility of another crisis at the different edge of Eurasia. The potential troublemaker is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and its nuclear missile program, which has somewhat revived in recent times.


On Monday, January 31, it was confirmed the DPRK launched the Hwasong-12 ballistic missile the day before. The missile can reportedly carry a large-size heavy nuclear warhead and has a range of about 4,500 km. The launch of the rocket sparked the fears that Pyongyang may abandon the unilateral moratorium on missile tests (long-range and nuclear missiles). According to Kim Jong Un, he no longer considers himself bound by the moratorium due to the ongoing "hostile policies" of the US and its allies.


“Since there is no quick and easy solution to the situation around the DPRK, it is worth considering interim solutions. What could realistically be on the agenda for talks right now? Preventing unplanned military actions and minimal confidence building measures. This is the main problem today; nobody wants a war by error. In future, it would be wise to desist from the talks focused purely on the nuclear issue. It would not make sense to discuss North Korea’s nuclear issue without also looking at missile defense and the rising conventional potential of countries in the region, or without looking at the problems relating to uncertainty over diplomatic relations. And within any discussion it is vital that issues open to interim deals are identified,” – expert on the DPRK military capabilities, Vladimir Khrustalev.


“The first risk we can identify in the region is the risk of a “war by mistake”. Constant military exercises, huge concentration of forces, regular accidents can lead to an armed conflict,” – expert on the DPRK military capabilities, Vladimir Khrustalev.


“Iranian missile launches do not violate country’s commitments or norms of international law.  All of the provisions of Resolution 1929, that prohibited Tehran from launching ballistic missiles, were terminated in January 2016, and the resolution 2231 merely “calls upon” Iran not to undertake any activity related to such launches, which is not legally binding; the JCPOA does not address the issue of ballistic missile launches.” – Andrey Baklitskiy, PIR Center “Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation” Program Director.


“The chances that the crisis in Syria will be stopped in the nearest future are diminishing. I don’t believe that in the summer of 2013 there will be some fundamental changes in security situation. In June, Iran's Presidential elections will be held. After them, I think some new balance of power in the region can be seen. Anyway, the situation inside the country and abroad will depend mainly on their results”, - Editor-in-Chief of Kommersant FM radio, Konstantin von Eggert.


“The Korean peninsula where bellicose rhetoric between North and South Korea has gained momentum is another hotbed of tension. Despite the statement of the North’s readiness to start war with the South, I'm sure that there will be no real swar. Otherwise, it would mean the end of the North Korean regime. There are no reasons to rely on Russia’s and China’s (primarily China’s) military aid. And alone North Korea is clearly going to lose.  It should be taken into account that here is neither nuclear weapons in North Korea, no reliable delivering mechanisms with a range of over 1,800 km”, - PIR Center Senior Vice President, Lieutenant General (Retired) Evgeny Buzhinsky. 


“It is interesting to notice that while a relatively small North Korean test arouses so much concern, the continued possession of nuclear weapons by the P-5 and the other nuclear countries outside the NPT, and their reliance on these arsenals for security, is accepted by a majority of the public in the Northern Hemisphere”, - Sergio Duarte, Ambassador (ret.), High Representative to the United Nations for Disarmament Affairs (2007-2012).


“North Korea’s actions appear senseless, the country established itself as a nuclear power long ago, and this conduct doesn’t do any good as a signal of the country’s defense capabilities. If North Korea planned this in order to compel the US to engage in dialogue and to “up the ante” in these conversations, as they did in 2009, then they gravely miscalculated.” – Georgy Toloraya, Director of Korean Programs at the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences


“Clearly, nuclear test of North Korea will complicate negotiations, but it will not cause a military conflict,” - Senior Vice President of PIR Center, Lieutenant-General (ret.) Gennady M. Evstafiev.