Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Kim Jong Il To Shoot A New Load

North Korea, the nation that put the word "terror" in the phrase "Stalinist terror state," may be preparing another set of missile tests. Via Wizbang, the AP and Reuters are both reporting that new tests are possible in the next few days. From the AP:

North Korea has three or four more missiles on launch pads and ready for firing, major South Korean newspapers reported Thursday.

The missiles are either short- or medium-range, reported Chosun Ilbo, one of South Korea's largest dailies. It cited an unidentified senior South Korean official.

Another major paper, JoongAng Ilbo, carried a similar report.

The North has also barred people from sailing into some areas off the coast until July 11 in a possible sign of preparations for additional launches, Chosun Ilbo said.

The English version of Chosun Ilbo is here, and JoongAng Ilbo here, but reports similar to what is described above could not be found at the time of this posting (11:30 pm CDT 7/5/06) UPDATE: Chisun Ilbo story now avaiable.

From Reuters:
North Korea appears to be making preparations to launch another long-range Taepodong-2 missile but the missile is not yet on the launch pad, NBC News reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed U.S. officials.

NBC said the missile was nonetheless in its final assembly stage.

The NBC report is here, and it states:
U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News it appears North Korea is making preparations to launch another long-range Taepodong 2 missile that is now in final assembly.

The South Korean defense minister said Thursday intelligence shows activity at North Korean missile sites, Yonhap news agency reported.

The impetus for a new launch may be the utter technical failure of the first test. From Chosun Ilbo:
With the failed launch, experts say North Korea has scored an own goal, severely diminishing the efficacy of the missile card in international negotiations.

"North Korea has to show that its nuclear program is complete, and in order to export missiles, it must show that its missile technology works," said Baek Seung-joo, director of North Korea research at Seoul's Korea Institute for Defense. "Since this is also an important issue in the maintenance of the regime, it will certainly not give up and will in fact speed up work on missile development."

Wizbang describes the activity as " spoiled brat screaming at the top of his lungs, 'Look at me! Pay attention to me!'" However, Richardson at Korea Liberator is convinced that the tests have nothing to do with attracting attention or forcing concessions from the West. Instead, he believes the tests are a maneuver by North Korea to force an end to six-party talks, so that they might resume their nuclear program in earnest. It is a persuasive argument, but not necessarily one that excludes other motives for the launch, such as the demands of internal politics and the need to advertise their missile program.

On the latter point, I've seen hardly any mention concerning the success or failure of the launch of the shorter range Scud-type missiles. Perhaps it is possible that while the ICBM was a failure, some success obtained from the launch of the shorter range missiles. Western intelligence claims those missiles had capacities we have already seen, but I wonder if it is possible to know for certain that those missiles contained no advancements. Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler described the tests as "North Korea Bombards The Sea Of Japan," calling to mind Caligula's vengeful attacks against Neptune. But perhaps those tests did precisely what the North Koreans hoped, and what those who purchase their weapons expected to see.


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