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    DPRK may (or may not) test Taepodong 2 missile

    As of this morning, it’s still considered possible that the DPRK will test-fire its long-range Taepodong 2 missile:

    On 18 June, US White House press secretary [Tony] Snow warned North Korea about apparent signs that it will test-fire its Taepodong 2 long-range ballistic missile: “If a test-fire is conducted, we will have to make a correct and appropriate response.” He avoided mentioning any concrete [measures], but seems to have been thinking of filing a report with the United Nations Security Council or cooperating with other interested nations to impose sanctions.

    The Nikkei is citing a CNN interview that I’ve managed not to see. Whether I’ve back-translated Snow’s diplomat-o-lect accurately, I don’t know. Over here, Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Aso is taking a less-bland stance:

    Japan will immediately ask the United Nations for an emergency Security Council meeting if Pyongyang launches the Taepodong 2 missile now on a launch pad in North Korea, Foreign Minister Taro Aso said Sunday.

    Japan will also consider imposing economic sanctions against North Korea if the country fires the missile, Aso said.

    The ballistic missile is believed capable of hitting the west coast of the United States.

    “We will discuss which measure we will take, as we have several alternatives including (putting an embargo on) the North Korean cargo ferry Man Gyong Bong-92 and several other means,” Aso told reporters.

    Whether Japan would consider it a pre-emptive strike if a missile is fired and hits Japanese soil would depend on the circumstances, Aso added.

    The Yomiuri has a somewhat different interpretation (and it does sound as if both articles were talking about the same appearance by Aso):

    Aso also mentioned the possibility of the missile reaching Japan. “I don’t think the missile would fly correctly even if North Korea intends to fire the missile to land in the sea. We have to consider the possibility that the missile will mistakenly fall on Japanese territory,” the foreign minister said.

    Japan isn’t really in the position of late to be getting all smirky over the ability of other countries to launch projectiles accurately, but of course the issue is a real one. Yesterday, the word was that spy images were showing little new activity, so the excitement died down a little. The DPRK doesn’t seem to have issued any kind of public statement, either of the “nothing to worry about” or of the “how dare you interfere in our private military affairs!” variety. Assuming the test-firing is carried out and doesn’t go awry in a way that provokes a serious incident–say, the missile ends up falling on an apartment building in Sapporo–the usual condemnations are likely to be as far as things are taken.

    One Response to “DPRK may (or may not) test Taepodong 2 missile”

    1. tanoki says:

      The test-firing is gettting a lot of press here in the U.S., and for good reason. Although I’m not a big Bolton fan (no, I’m not talking about Michael Bolton here, although I’m not one of his fans either), the concern amongst at least some of the politically important here in the U.S. is that, although the North Koreans are billing this launch as a “test,” we can’t be sure of what is under the nose cone of that missile. We simply don’t (and can’t) know what is being carried by the North Korean missile, and if firing it down is what it takes to ensure our safety here in the U.S., it is what we should do. Full stop.

      The U.S. government (and media) have recently raised the possibility that the U.S. might shoot any missile down with our recently installed missle-defense systems. But the government has backed off. Why? Because they wish to preserve international harmony and not add fuel to the fire of the conflict with North Korea? Of course not. The only reason we won’t be greeting their missile with a missile of our own is that we don’t have sufficient confidence in our defense system to get the job done. If we attempt to down their missile and fail, we end up with egg on our face and expose our own massive soft underbelly. The White House doesn’t want this, so they’ve back-burnered any plans to use the defense system on this launch. Spare the embarassment and leave them guessing about the efficacy of our defense systems. At least that’s the thinking of those in the White House.

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