Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Monday, April 6, 2009

North Korea -- FAIL; UN -- FAIL

This past weekend "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-Il carried through on his missile test he had been talking up for some time. McKittrick at Closing Velocity notes the mild success in the test itself -- staging -- but the New York Times notes that this test was about as successful as the previous one was back in 2006:

North Korea failed in its highly vaunted effort to fire a satellite into orbit, military and private experts said Sunday after reviewing detailed tracking data that showed the missile and payload fell into the sea. Some said the failure undercut the North Korean campaign to come across as a fearsome adversary able to hurl deadly warheads halfway around the globe.

Defying world opinion, North Korea in recent weeks had moved steadily and fairly openly toward launching a long-range rocket that Western experts saw as a major step toward a military weapon. The launching itself of the three-stage rocket on Sunday, which the North Korean government portrayed as a success — even bragging that the supposed satellite payload was now broadcasting patriotic tunes from space — outraged Japan and South Korea, led to widespread rebuke by President Obama and other leaders, and prompted the United Nations Security Council to go into an emergency session.

But looking at the launching from a purely technical vantage point, space experts said the failure represented a blow that in all likelihood would seriously delay the missile’s debut.

“It’s got to be embarrassing,” said Geoffrey E. Forden, a missile expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “I can imagine heads flying if the ‘Dear Leader’ finds out the satellite didn’t fly into orbit,” he said, referring to the name North Koreans are obliged to use when speaking of Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s reclusive leader.

North Korea’s official news agency said Mr. Kim attended the launching.

Analysts dismissed the idea that the rocket firing could represent a furtive success, calling the failure consistent with past North Korean fumbles and suggesting it might reveal a significant quality control problem in one of the world’s most isolated nations.

Not so fast, Mr. Analyst. There are those out there that differ with that opinion about staging. From Space Daily:

"It says, first of all, they had successful first staging and (were) able to control the rocket through staging," retired General Henry Obering told CNN television.

"That is a significant step forward for any missile program because often times the missiles become unstable as they go through the staging events," Obering said.

But the following stages failed, with part falling in the Sea of Japan and the rest in the Pacific, he told the US Cable News Network.

"The fact that they did not get apparent separation of the payload from the second or third stage means that they have more work to do there in terms of being able to achieve that," he said.

"The bottom line is they are continuing to advance in their ranges and I think it's why it's important that we have the ability to defend against these types of threats," Obering said.

While the missiles may still continue to fail, the baby steps the NorKs keep taking should be enough of a concern for those keeping an eye on them. Well, everyone except the fools at Turtle Bay:

The U.S. and its allies sought punishment Sunday for North Korea’s defiant launch of a rocket that apparently fizzled into the Pacific, holding an emergency U.N. meeting in response to the “provocative act” that some believe was a long-range missile test.

President Barack Obama, faced with his first global security crisis, called for an international response and condemned North Korea for threatening the peace and stability of nations “near and far.” Minutes after liftoff, Japan requested the emergency Security Council session in New York. …

Council members met for three hours, seeking above all a unified response, but broke up for the night without issuing even a customary preliminary statement of condemnation. Diplomats privy to the closed-door talks say China, Russia, Libya and Vietnam were concerned about further alienating and destabilizing North Korea.

“We’re now in a very sensitive moment,” Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui said after the talks concluded. “Our position is that all countries concerned should show restraint, and refrain from taking actions that might lead to increased tensions.”

How bloody pathetic is it that the UN can't even bring itself to issue the sternly-worded letter condemning the NorKs? The UN, once again, shows it's utter ineptitude and irrelevance in the world today. There won't be any punishment for the NorKs. They got away with another missile test -- tests forbidden by UN sanctions -- and they're being protected by others on the Security Council, just like every other time they've blown off the UN.

Over the weekend, a number of talking heads said we should have shot the missile down. We agree. There are those that claim this would have been saber-rattling on our part, and could have backfired on South Korea. I disagree. While the NorKs are a military threat to the peninsula, I don't think they could carry on a prolonged conflict with South Korea, especially if there's a threat of us joining in the fray.

The NorKs aren't a long-range threat right now, but that doesn't mean they're going to give up on the idea of making an ICBM. Given time, and collusion with other nations -- like the Chinese or Pakistan -- they could become a very real threat.

Publius II


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