With China and Russia's backing, North Korea is a fierce enemy for the US

As tensions have risen in the last week, North Korea announced a detailed plan on Wednesday to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the Guam, a US Pacific territory. This has come after the two countries exchanged a fresh salvo of verbal attacks which saw President Donald Trump vowing to give a befitting reply to the isolated kingdom with 'fire and fury'.

This scenario does not come as a surprise to the world community as both the countries have long been engaged in a war of words. However, this time the threat has reached a "new stage", warned the Japanese defense ministry.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

In an article in The Washington Post, two US officials said that the developments signalled that North Korea had crossed "a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power". The report also estimates that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un had up to 60 nuclear weapons under his control until last month.

North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over in order to curtail Pyongyang's ballistic missile and nuclear programmes. However, this has not deterred the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as it continues to be an avid aggressor in international politics.

However, BBC reports that North Korea's people are among the world's poorest in terms of per capita gross national income

So, how exactly is North Korea — an isolated kingdom with sanctions and an economy contracted due to a drought — rising up to the US?

Washington-based think tank C4ADS says that Pyongyang is "far from being isolated, (and) is globally active through its overseas networks," which are helping to raise the funds and materials the country needs for its weapons programmes.

The report also showed how a number of "gateway firms" are being used to gain access to the international finance market. In July, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on a Chinese bank, two Chinese citizens and a shipping company for helping North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.

Last year, a Chinese businesswoman was accused of using "layers of shell and front companies" to conduct activities on behalf of North Korea.

Since years, North Korea has been surviving with the support of US' direct rival, China. With a boost of 4.6 percent exports from China, North Korea's economy grew at its fastest pace in 17 years in 2016.

On the other hand, Russia is also seen criticising Washington's handling of North Korea. In May, Russian president Vladimir Putin expressed his willingness to dispatch a diplomatic delegation to play the role of a mediator in the region.

In May, when China halted energy exports to North Korea, Russia has stepped in to help and established itself as the rogue country’s leading international ally. USA Today reported that in addition to a boost in coal exports,  the two countries reached a labour immigration agreement to expand a programme that already employs 40,000 North Korean labourers in Russia.

Russian firms like the Independent Petroleum Company, Ardis-Bearings LLC, and Igor Aleksandrovich Michurin, have been involved in oil and other sectors in business.

With a backing from the two mighty powers, China and Russia, North Korea's threat seems to be getting more real than ever.

Updated Date: Aug 10, 2017 23:19 PM

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