Defiant North Korea tests ICBM that can reach US

(5 July 2017) Geopolitical tensions are on the rise this week after a successful test launch of an ICBM by North Korea.  Pyongyang claimed the missile could reach as far as Alaska and had the capacity to carry a nuclear warhead.  The test is a potential game-changer in the ongoing stalemate between the renegade communist state led by President Kim Jong-Un and its increasingly alarmed neighbours.  China remains the key to any solution to the stand-off as it is North Korea's only substantial trading partner and foreign sponsor. 

After trying the softer approach under Obama, President Trump has tried to turn up the heat with tougher talk but so far has little to show for it.  In fact, Trump's tough approach may well have made things worse by pushing North Korea to test even more aggressive weapons against what it perceives to be a more imminent threat.  The problem for the US and its Asian allies is that there is no viable military option in the region.  Any pre-emptive attack on North Korea would result in tens of thousands of South Korean casualties at a minimum. 

As I have written previously, I don't foresee a major war happening this year.  Based on the approximate timed charts of Kim Jong-Un and North Korea, however, I think the odds for some kind of destabilizing military action rises in 2018 and especially in 2019.   One noteworthy factor is that President Kim will begin his Saturn-Mars dasha period in early March 2019.  Mars is the natural significator of conflict and war and its placement in Kim's chart with power-hungry Pluto is also indicative that the period will be marked by an intensifying sense of conflict.

In terms of transits, we can see that Uranus (4 Aries) is now opposite his Mars (4 Libra).  This is a bad transit that may make Kim Jung-Un more reckless than usual and is one important reason why he has conducted this test.  It also increases the likelihood of bad outcomes from aggressive actions.  Due to the slow velocity of Uranus, it will last for almost two years.  It will finally station direct at 4 Aries exactly opposite his Mars at the end of 2018 and early 2019.  This is a very dangerous combination that offers some confirming evidence for a greater likelihood of military or violent actions in that approximate time window.  

The test launch also occurred when Kim was likely feeling emboldened and powerful when Mars (25 Gemini) was opposite his Sun (23 Sagittarius) and therefore aligning with transiting Pluto (24 Sagittarius).  It's definitely an shoot first, ask questions later sort of alignment as Mars' desire for action is harnessed by Pluto's obsession with control and power.  The ego-driven Sun in the middle of this pairing has little choice but to follow through on these ambitions.

It's worth noting that the final Uranus-Mars opposition aspect will occur after transiting Saturn has conjoined all of this 1st house Sagittarius planets throughout 2018.  Saturn tends to be a planet that blocks progress so Kim may feel boxed in and lacking any other options.  

While I don't think a major armed engagement is likely in the coming weeks, we should pay special attention to a couple of Mars transits which could act as triggers for events that create worsening tensions. Mars moves much faster than Uranus so its aspect can often bring about events that fulfill the potential of transits involving slower-moving planets such as Uranus.  On July 16-20, Mars will square natal Mars Kim's chart.  This is likely to coincide with a difficult or aggressive event, perhaps one where luck goes against him.  It appears to be a setback of some kind. 

This also fits with the likelihood of some kind of conflictual or aggressive action in the coming weeks in Trump's PEOTUS chart as the Sun-Mars conjunction will be opposite the natal Mars.  With Uranus (4 Aries) very close to the 8th house cusp in July and August, there is an additional instability to the Trump administration this summer.   Uranus is the planet of sudden and unexpected events and the 8th house can signify setbacks and scandals.  It's hard to imagine an all-out war happening this soon, but it could well represent a serious ratcheting up of tensions, such as from a symbolic or incidental attack. 

Another period to watch in this respect would be August 8-12 when Mars aligns with his natal Ketu.  Maybe China pulls the plug on his regime in some way (sanctions, etc) or he suffers some kind of public embarrassment such as another failed missile launch.  It looks more serious than that though.  It's definitely a situation I will be following carefully. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have moved higher so far this week as investors focused on positive macro data in the US and in Europe.  The Dow was enjoyed a modest rise since last week as it closes in on 21,500 and a possible new record high.  India was also higher as the Sensex again pushed above 31,000 following the roll-out of the new GST.   This rise is not unexpected as in last week's market forecast I thought that the bullish influence of the entry of Venus into Taurus and the Sun-Jupiter-Neptune alignment would likely boost optimism. 

We could see a bit more upside this week as Mercury aligns with Venus on Thursday and Friday.  However, anxiety and pessimism may be on the rise in the coming days as Mars enters sidereal Cancer on Tuesday July 11th where it will form an unstable alignment with Ketu, the South Lunar Node. 

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.