The Quite Rational Basis for North Korea’s Japan Overfly

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

This week, North Korea launched a missile designed to carry what it has described as a “large-sized, heavy nuclear warhead” over Japan. Following the launch, North Korea made clear its intentions for future tests. Kim Jong Un called for “more ballistic rocket launching drills with the Pacific as a target,” according to a paraphrase of his order by North Korean state-run media. That’s an important first, and represents North Korea’s single-most provocative ballistic missile test since it began testing its first-generation Scuds in the 1980s.

For observers of North Korea’s ballistic-missile program, the spate of long-range missile system tests over the past 30 months comes as no surprise. If there was a surprise, it’s the rate at which Pyongyang has been