Saturday, April 4, 2009

Rocket launched; Japan breathes again

The Aso government got its wish: North Korea launched its rocket, with the first stage said to have landed off the coast of Akita prefecture and the second said to have landed in the Pacific Ocean.

After weeks of posturing, there was no attempt to intercept the debris.

It is unclear whether North Korea successfully delivered a satellite into orbit, as it said it would.

The US, Japan, and South Korea will now go to the UN Security Council as planned, citing the launch as a violation of UNSC resolution 1718. There will be some question of whether China will join the others in condemning the launch. China and Russia expressed reluctance to declare North Korea in violation of res. 1718 because it had followed procedures — notifying the International Maritime Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization of its impending launch — and gave indictations that it was "just" a satellite launch, even though the implications of a successful launch have obvious implications for North Korea's missile arsenal. (As an aside, I suspect that Japanese conservatives are happy with a successful launch, thinking that it will render the US as vulnerable to North Korea missile strikes as Japan, narrowing the distance between the US and Japan on North Korea.)

China always walks a fine line in its relationship with North Korea, and this case will be no different. China will likely stop short of supporting a new resolution condemning North Korea or supporting new sanctions — both Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao were cool to the urgings of Prime Minister Aso and Foreign Minister Nakasone on the sidelines of the G20 in London — but I wouldn't be surprised if Beijing used one of its own back channels with Pyongyang to express its displeasure.


George said...

What about Guam?

When the talking heads of the MSM discuss potential impact on the U.S. of any North Korean missile launch, they inevitably refer to the current technology being able to possibly reach Alaska or Hawaii. I am consistently disappointed in the fact that they ignore the American citizens of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas and Guam, who live a heck of a lot closer to North Korea than any Hawaiian Islander. It doesn't take much of a Google search to determine that we have American citizens and a huge air base on Guam. This is of course ignoring the thousands of American service men and women stationed in South Korea and Japan.

The MSM also generally fails to refer to Article V of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation noting that we must react to defend Japan if such a launch is perceived to be an attack. I don't know that one could or necessarily would categorize this latest North Korean launch as an attack even if it had landed on Japanese soil. More likely just failed technology by an asinine government. However, I feel it would be prudent for the MSM talking heads to at least mention what we have in writing during their reporting.

Am I asking too much?

Anonymous said...

The consequences of hysteria over a rocket launch will:
1) Continue to feed anti-N Korea sentiments in Japan to no real political advantage for the Japanese Government who is in no position to deliver a less belligerent N Korea nor further progress on abduction issue (another hysteria issue).
2) Just gives N Korea one more button they can push to get attention and create issues for which the West convinces itself it must negotiate.

Why do people get so excited by rockets? They have proven to be effective weapons of terror but not of real destruction. The best way to deal with propaganda is to ignore it.

George said...

Not that I necessarily disagree with your comments on undue hysteria over these rocket launches, however when you live within range and in fact under the flight path of their unpredictable landings it makes all the difference, I think.

Why do we get excited by rockets? Because they can accidentally kill us, I suppose. You mention that they are effective weapons of terror but not of real destruction. Unless, of course, you happen to have one land on you or someone you care about. It hardly seems like simple propaganda for an antagonistic nation to continue the development of a ballistic missile program that includes launches that fly over my home and my family, from my perspective. If such missiles were flying over the U.S. I can only imagine what kind of hysteria would ensue.

All that said, I thought that Gates, Obama and Clinton, etc. were fairly hysteria free these past few weeks. Then again, they do have other issues on their minds at the moment, which is one of the many reasons for the timing of this latest launch I'd imagine. Hopefully, they were at a minimum reassuring the Japanese of our commitment to their defense away from the cameras.

Anonymous said...

Some thoughts on the NK rocket launch. I saw John Bolton, last UN ambassador under Bush and staunch neo-con advocate of regime change, on Fox News discuss the missile launch. He seemed rather calm (hard to judge I know due to his stoic public demeanor). He pointed out to the excited Fox interviewer that China is about the only country that can influence N Korean behavior without use of military force. Also saw (on CSPAN)UN ambassador Takasu (Japan) and Rice (US) make their points about the UNSC emergency meeting. As expected they emphasized that NK was in violation of UN resolution 1718. Takasu was excited and indignant but did not reveal much except to admit that under other circumstances NK had the right to peaceful launch of satellites. Rice was calmer and kept to the proceedings and results of the UNSC meeting. The newspapers said that NK claimed it successfully launched an orbiting vehicle in space but I have yet to get any more information on this crucial point. Yesterday, I saw the CNN special report on the impending launch. There was a lot of heat but little light until star international reporter Christiane Amanpour pointed out her outstanding report about touring the Yongbyon reactor last year, witnessing its decommissioning and the spectacular explosion that leveled the cooling tower component.

Anonymous said...

The bruhaha created by a rocket, the direction of launch which would have had to pass over Japan were it to finish somewhere in international waters, results in failed Security Council resolution reinforcing North Korean behavior, as it tests and reassures them of China and Russia's historical connectedness however reluctant to the regime. In the meantime it exposes the error prone and bungling authorities in Japan's defense, and were it not for trust in general political cynicism, undoes much of the unity shown in the just finished G20. Little less alarm would have resulted in much less reinforcement for N Korea to continue to behave as a hostile actor. Ballistic missiles are propaganda weapons. If destruction and delivery is the objective an anonymous shipping container is much more effective. On the other hand anonymous delivery of destruction has no political purpose other than one that is totally anarchical. N Korea does more harm shipping amphetamines than with their ballistic missile program.