Thursday, July 20, 2006

North Korean Missiles Were Advertising All Along

The North Korean missile tests no doubt had multiple purposes, but I believed then that their primary, immediate purpose was to display North Korean technology to the customers of that country's missiles, primarily Iran. At a Senate hearing yesterday, chief U.S. negotiator for the six-party talks, Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill, claimed that at least one Iranian official was present for the launch. Iran has supplied missiles to Hezbollah, and the presence of the missiles drastically changes the security calculus in the Middle East.

Many laughed at the North Korean tests, and mocked the fact that their long-range ballistic failed so miserably. My concern was with the missiles that didn't fail, the short-range scud-type missiles that fell into the Sea of Japan. I wonder now what the Iranians learned from that "failure", and how much money they are now willing to spend on North Korean technology.

The U.N. passed a toothless resolution against North Korea, and now South Korea is fighting with putative allies, Japan and the U.S., over carrying out the provisions of that resolution. South Korea is perhaps afraid of reprisals: the North is apparently on high alert (via Protein Wisdom).

Korea Liberator has an interview and a later follow-up with Gordon Chang. The most interesting response was this, from the follow-up question:

I definitely think Beijing is trying to colonize North Korea through investment. Because China is large and North Korea is not, Beijing should eventually succeed. Kim Jong Il will resist Chinese initiatives to the best of his ability, but he does not have the means to resist over the long term. China will, one way or another, buy off enough elements of his regime.

China will probably be deterred by North Korea's nuclear weapons. Nukes are a real game changer.

Finally, two reminders also from Korea Liberator -- here and here -- as to why the North Korean state, notwithstanding the interests of South Korea and China, must be destroyed. The latter is hard to take -- it details how children were cannibalized for food.

When I read things like this I'm reminded of the most haunting thing I heard in the aftermath of 9/11. A firefighter who had seen the towers come down said, "I never realized just how evil that evil can be."

It's a thought that's applicable to nearly every new revelation about life in North Korea.


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