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Why North Korea’s March Missile Test Matters More than February’s Test

It’s a matter of timeline, scale, and the new boss in town at the White House, as North Korea escalates what is a major foreign challenge for Trump in 2017.

North Korean missile test

North Korea conducted its second missile test in 22 days on Monday, firing four ballistic missiles into Japan’s sea. The test is a second provocation of President Trump, Japan, and South Korea in under a month.

Below are three reasons why you should care about this rogue regime’s missile test even more than their February test.

TIMELINE

North Korea’s missile test, into the Sea of Japan, was the second missile test it conducted in three weeks.

The last time North Korea compressed two major actions into this short a timeline was around six months ago, when it fired three ballistic missiles in Japan’s direction on Sept. 5, 2016, and conducted its fifth nuclear test on Sept. 9, 2016.

Does the latest compressed timeline mean North Korea’s sixth nuclear test is on the way? Or will North Korea “cool off” for a few months, as it did after the September tests?

Either way, Bloomberg‘s timeline of North Korean provocations show an escalation in the last 18 months after years of ‘touch-and-go’ from the regime.

SCALE

The use of four ballistic missiles, as opposed to last month’s one, is a clear escalation. So is the distance the missiles traveled – 600 miles in March, as opposed to 300 last month.

NEW BOSS IN TOWN

North Korea launched Monday’s missiles in “retaliation over U.S.-South Korea military drills it sees as a preparation for war.”

However, one can also see the two tests in Trump’s first six weeks in office as a test of the new president, who has promised to be tough on North Korea (and its one major ally, China).

How Trump responds to the latest test – from Washington, D.C., this time, instead of Mar-a-Lago – will send a signal to a regime that is ramping up for what it thinks is war.