North Korea, true to its threat, launched a Taepodong-2 missile that flew over Japan and landed in pieces in the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean. The launch was roundly condemned by world leaders, but little if anything is planned in response.
The North Koreans claim that they have successfully launched a satellite. “The satellite is transmitting the melodies of the immortal revolutionary paeans ‘Song of Gen. Kim Il Sung’ and ‘Song of Gen. Kim Jong Il’ as well as measurement data back to Earth,” said the state-run Korean Central News Agency. The US military disputes this assertion, maintaining that no object entered low Earth orbit.
The North Korean missile launch was roundly condemned, by Barack Obama in Europe, by European and Asian leaders, and by the UN. China and Russia, which both share a border with North Korean, urged calm.
There will be a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the matter. The North Korean missile launch was in clear violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1718, which enjoins North Korea from conducting launches of long range, ballistic missiles.
The question arises, what exactly can the UN Security Council do? Sanctions seem not to have impressed North Korea. In any event, China and Russia, permanent members of the UN Security Council, can be counted on to water down any UN response.
While the North Korean launch of the Taepodong-2 missile can be seen as a failure, as it did not reach orbit, it can also be seen as the next step in the development of a North Korean ballistic missile capability. Added to that capability the North Korean nuclear arsenal, then the threat to world peace becomes obvious.
The problem is not just the idea that North Korea might, in the near future, possess a weapon system that can strike at Alaska and Hawaii, among other places. North Korea has show itself in the past very capable of exporting missile technology. Imagine the possession of a working Taepodong-2 in the hands of, say, Iran, Syria, or even Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela?
The Obama administration’s response seems to careen from impotence to utopian pronouncements about a world without nuclear weapons. The latter is a dream that one suspects that North Korea (or for that matter Iran) does not share in the slightest.
President Obama might have ordered the North Korean missile shot down, as a lesson to the North Koreans of what happens when one threatens the United States. He did not do so, thus showing weakness to North Korea. President Obama might choose to step up efforts to achieve true missile defense. But indications are that Obama wants to scale back missile defense efforts, canceling programs such as the airborne anti missile laser and negotiating away the missile defense system being built in Eastern Europe.
The combination of North Korean assertiveness and Obama impotent passivity can only lead to trouble and perhaps disaster.
Source: NKorea launches rocket, defying world pressure, Jean H. Lee and Jae-Soon Chang, AP, April 5th, 2009