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Progress boosts the profile of North Korea's new dictator, but draws international criticism

North Korea, a nation titled by former President George W. Bush as part of "The Axis of Evil", shook the international political sphere Wednesday when it appeared to successfully launch an intercontinental ballistic missile.

I. Kim Jung-un is Boosted by Surprise Success

The Asian nation recently saw power pass from the late dictator Kim Jong-il to his son, Kim Jung-un, 28 (or 29, according to some sources).  The last two decades have taken their toll on Kim Jung-un's isolated kingdom, with a famine in the 90s wiping out an estimated 10 percent of the population, and amidst ongoing struggles with poverty.  A third of North Koreans are estimated to be malnourished, at present.

In short, the nation's young leader has grown desperate for successes to continue his campaign to put a positive spin on the country's direction and quell unrest.

And he got one on Wednesday.  

After a delay due to unspecified launch issues, South Korean and Japanese officials detected a rocket launch just before 10 a.m., which flew out over the Pacific.  Later this morning came word from The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) who said that the missile "deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit."

NK rocket laucn
The launch was North Korea's first successful trip into orbit. [Image Source: Reuters]

North Korean state television station KCNA took to the air in a festive announcement, with its announcer garbed in colorful traditional garb and with propogandist tunes piping in the background.  The announcer said, according to Reuters, "The satellite has entered the planned orbit.  Chosun (Korea) does what it says."

"At a time when great yearnings and reverence for Kim Jong-il pervade the whole country, its scientists and technicians brilliantly carried out his behests to launch a scientific and technological satellite in 2012, the year marking the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sun."

The confirmation from NORAD (a joint defense effort of the U.S. and Canada) is the first time the U.S. has confirm North Korea's bold claims of successful test launches.  North Korea has seen a string of prior launches end in fiery failures.  For example, during an April launch while North Korea boasted of great success, NORAD and Asian ally states believe that missile crashed only 2 minutes after launch.

II. White House Condemns Launch

The launch brought condemnation from the U.S. and many of its allies.  U.S. officials called it "highly provocative" and suggested the launch inched the hostile nation closer to intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities, which could allow the nation to strike targets in the mainland U.S.  

The White House in its statement comments, "The international community must work in a concerted fashion to send North Korea a clear message that its violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions have consequences."

Japan has already filed a complaint with the U.N. requesting a special U.N. Security Council meeting.  However, the possibility of furth sanctions against North Korea is unlikely, as China -- a key ally of North Korea -- is expected to block any such move.

North Korea defended the launch, saying it merely launched a weather satellite into orbit, and calling the effort a "peaceful project".  KCNA comments, "The attempt to see our satellite launch as a long-range missile launch for military purposes comes from hostile perception that tries to designate us a cause for security tension."

III. Missile Defense Systems Could Block North Korean Nukes

Currently, North Korea is estimated to have enough plutonium to potentially build half a dozen nuclear bombs.  However, technologically it is estimated to be at least several years away from being able to create a functional warhead, which it has expressed a desire to do.

But the nation has received a boost from Middle Eastern ally Iran -- another member of the "Axis of Evil" and persistent thorn in America's side.  U.S. intelligence tracked missile shipments travelling from Iran to North Korea over the last year; it is believed that much of the missile was constructed in the increasingly high-tech Middle Eastern nation.

Iran has denied helping North Korea, but according to intelligence officials Iranian observers were spotted on the ground in the Asian nation, taking notes on the launch.

The Middle Eastern nation has been regularly in the news, after it was also accused of funneling rockets to Islamist militants in the recent conflict between Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Israel.  In that conflict the Israel Defense Forces are estimated to have shot down between 80 and 90 percent of dangerous hostile rockets using their high-tech "Iron Dome" missile interceptor system.

Japan and South Korea have similar missile interceptors systems -- Patriot-missile based systems co-developed with the U.S. and partially deployed -- to ward off potential threats from China or, particularly, North Korea.  However, they declined to fire test those systems on the North Korean missile, after China issued a warning advising against counter-measures.

Patriot interceptor
A member of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces is seen running to PATRIOT Interceptor Missile battery on Wednesday.  Japan and U.S. declined to intercept the North Korean rocket after being warned by China. [Image Source: Reuters]

Nonetheless, in months to come expect the U.S. and its allies to focus on establishing a strong countermeasures perimeter capable of shooting down North Korean nuclear warheads, should it try to launch them in future conflcts.

Sources: Reuters, The White House

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RE: When you are indebted
By polishvendetta on 12/12/2012 2:58:54 PM , Rating: 2
Some of the highest tech millitary personel have been watching this situation for months. in fact i wouldnt be suprised if there was someone out there who's job is to watch north korea and report to someone if some one flushes a toilet in that country.

you really think, had this been a threat, that we would just sit and watch? also are you aware of the cost of missle interceptors?

I'm sure everyone in the world was wondering if this would actualy work/ waiting for it to fail.

Also with China's new interest in building and expanding its millitary i dont think we want to do things that could start an internation conflict while we are still trying to fix things in the middle east.

RE: When you are indebted
By Argon18 on 12/12/2012 4:45:24 PM , Rating: 2
Remember this as you fill your shopping card this holiday season with cheap Made in China goods from Wal Mart and Best Buy. Those dollars you are spending on Made in China goods are going directly into the pockets of the Communist China government, friend and ally to North Korea and Iran. Those dollars are being used to build up a military that is already more than double the size of the US military, and they have nuclear weapon capability. Think about that for a moment, and where it's going to lead us in ~20 years or so. WWIII anyone?

RE: When you are indebted
By Jereb on 12/12/2012 4:50:50 PM , Rating: 5
Why is it that the immediate response to any nation approaching the US's level of military immediately broaches the fear of beign attacked?

RE: When you are indebted
By TSS on 12/13/2012 12:52:54 AM , Rating: 2
Because that's the way of the world like it or not. Peace usually exists when there's 1 big kid on the block, much bigger then everybody else, who gets to dictate how things are run on that block. This means that which ever party is being threatened can just point or go to the big kid and ask for help, and whoever's a threat doesn't stand a chance. Yes the big kids friends get a break while the ones he doesn't like have it hard, but everything is still relatively peacefull.

Then when another kid equal in size moves into the block, whenever there's a problem, the kids have a choice which big kid to go to. Pretty soon certain kids will side with one big kid and the other kids will side with the other, the closer they are in size the more equally the difference will be split. And each big kid no longer has a say over the little kids on the other side.

Then one of the big kids gets into a fight with the other big kid, most likely over one of the little kids that misbehaves, but he can't do anything about. Then if the little kids help their big kid, they're sure to have a lot easyer life if they win, and a lot harder life when their protector loses.

That's world wars in a nutshell. The consequences of letting china become bigger then the US means they will get more pull then the US. The US does not like this. In a perfect world they'd go "oh well" and play friendly to china, but we all know that's as likely as bricks coming to life. The only other option that is left, is try to prevent china from getting bigger then the US. After all, if they stay small, their pull stays small and the US gets to pressure them instead of the other way around.

We're already well on our way to a war between the US and china. I've already seen 2-3 different tariffs from the US on chinese products come by and the chinese have responded with their own tariffs on beef and tires.

Doesn't mean it will happen, it could easily be avoided still. It's just that the politicians in both countries don't really seem to want to. China wants revenge for the asian crisis while the US wants to blame their problems on anybody but their own as that would essentially wipe out their political elite entirely. China is communist(we remember those!), still a developing country (barbarians using non-mexican slave labor!), and the place where all your money has gone (never mind how). Perfect fall guy.

And yes the population will suffer. What else is new. If history teaches us one thing it's that humans do not learn from history. That, and the politicians simply do not care, their bottom line isn't affected.

RE: When you are indebted
By maugrimtr on 12/13/2012 8:42:16 AM , Rating: 2
First of all, China doesn't need US permission to be the biggest kid. It will obviously become the planet's most powerful economy joined to its greatest military force within a century or less. The time is coming when they could crush the US quite easily. We could call on Europe/Canada - but we're still going to be outnumbered.

Secondly, either side attacking would be stupid. The economic ties between China and the US guarantee they will never be on opposite sides of a war. Also, both have Nukes. That's two methods of assured self destruction. That's also why missile defences and balancing the damn budget are essential.

The real fear is from a smaller nuclear capable nation with an unhinged leadership, i.e. foaming at the mouth Islamists in Iran/Pakistan or foaming at the mouth Communists in N. Korea. It can take very little for despots to do something stupid. Even the US has gone to war over the slightest unsubstantiated hint of WMDs.

RE: When you are indebted
By jimbojimbo on 12/13/2012 1:28:32 PM , Rating: 2
Within a century? I'd say right now.

RE: When you are indebted
By ritualm on 12/12/2012 8:40:50 PM , Rating: 2
The problem isn't China, and you're wrong about China being a friend/ally to North Korea.

The problem is you.

Kindly shut the hell up.

RE: When you are indebted
By Argon18 on 12/13/2012 11:51:29 AM , Rating: 1
What a brilliant retort. Did you come up with that all by yourself? Bravo.

RE: When you are indebted
By ritualm on 12/13/2012 12:02:32 PM , Rating: 2
This is what you wrote:
Remember this as you fill your shopping card this holiday season with cheap Made in China goods from Wal Mart and Best Buy.

Snipped the rest because it's irrelevant.

The reason Wal-Mart and Best Buy sell made-in-China goods is because of you. You demand everything be cheap. You don't care where it's made as long as you can save a few bucks. But it's always easier to blame others than man up and take the blame yourself, amirite?

Where is your god now?

RE: When you are indebted
By chick0n on 12/12/2012 11:10:12 PM , Rating: 1
what did china do to you seriously? have u been reading too much obama crap ? dont forget most of ur beloved apple garbage are also made in china.

if you dont understanding trading, might as well stfu and go back to ur pathetic apple garbage.

RE: When you are indebted
By Argon18 on 12/13/2012 11:49:08 AM , Rating: 1
Hate much? Lol, I don't own a single Apple product. And I deliberately avoid Chinese made goods.

If you don't understand why funding the rise of a nuclear equipped Communist government is a bad thing, all I can say, is you should have paid more attention in school. History 101, for example.

RE: When you are indebted
By ritualm on 12/13/2012 12:05:55 PM , Rating: 2
Pot, meet kettle.

Argon, who consistently flunked History 101, tells others to read their own history. LOL

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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