North Korea launch increases threat of weapons

One step closer to long-range nukes

  • In this image made from video, a Unha-3 rocket is launched on the outskirts of Pyongyang on Dec. 12, 2012. A satellite that North Korea launched on board a long-range rocket is orbiting normally, South Korea said, following a defiant lift-off that drew a wave of international condemnation. (Associated Press/KRT via AP Video)In this image made from video, a Unha-3 rocket is launched on the outskirts of Pyongyang on Dec. 12, 2012. A satellite that North Korea launched on board a long-range rocket is orbiting normally, South Korea said, following a defiant lift-off that drew a wave of international condemnation. (Associated Press/KRT via AP Video)
  • This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea, 54 minutes after a long-range Unha-3 rocket was successfully launched on Dec. 12, 2012. (Associated Press/DigitalGlobe)This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea, 54 minutes after a long-range Unha-3 rocket was successfully launched on Dec. 12, 2012. (Associated Press/DigitalGlobe)
  • Scientists and technicians work on their computers to control the launch of North Korea's Unha-3 rocket at the General Satellite Control and Command Center in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Dec. 12, 2012. (Associated Press)Scientists and technicians work on their computers to control the launch of North Korea's Unha-3 rocket at the General Satellite Control and Command Center in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Dec. 12, 2012. (Associated Press)
  • Scientists and technicians at the General Satellite Control and Command Center on the outskirts of Pyongyang watch the launch of the Unha-3 rocket from a launch site on the west coast, in the village of Tongchang-ri, about 56 kilometers (35 miles) from the Chinese border city of Dandong, North Korea, on Dec. 12, 2012. (Associated Press)Scientists and technicians at the General Satellite Control and Command Center on the outskirts of Pyongyang watch the launch of the Unha-3 rocket from a launch site on the west coast, in the village of Tongchang-ri, about 56 kilometers (35 miles) from the Chinese border city of Dandong, North Korea, on Dec. 12, 2012. (Associated Press)
  • U.S. tanks move during a military exercise near the Demilitarized Zone between South and North Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, on Dec. 13, 2012. (Associated Press)U.S. tanks move during a military exercise near the Demilitarized Zone between South and North Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, on Dec. 13, 2012. (Associated Press)
  • South Korean protesters and former North Korean defectors display mock coffins symbolizing victims killed during the era of North Korea's late Kim Jong Il during a rally in Seoul on Dec. 13, 2012, denouncing North Korea's rocket launch. (Associated Press)South Korean protesters and former North Korean defectors display mock coffins symbolizing victims killed during the era of North Korea's late Kim Jong Il during a rally in Seoul on Dec. 13, 2012, denouncing North Korea's rocket launch. (Associated Press)
  • South Korean housewives shout slogans during a Dec. 13, 2012, rally in Seoul denouncing North Korea's rocket launch. North Korea successfully fired a long-range rocket the previous day, defying international warnings as the regime of Kim Jong Un took a big step forward in its quest to develop a nuclear missile. The letters read "Denounce North Korea's rocket launch and beat Kim Joung Un." (Associated Press)South Korean housewives shout slogans during a Dec. 13, 2012, rally in Seoul denouncing North Korea's rocket launch. North Korea successfully fired a long-range rocket the previous day, defying international warnings as the regime of Kim Jong Un took a big step forward in its quest to develop a nuclear missile. The letters read "Denounce North Korea's rocket launch and beat Kim Joung Un." (Associated Press)
  • A South Korean man reads a newspaper Dec. 13, 2012, on a subway train in Seoul. The newspaper's headline reports North Korea's successful rocket launch the previous day, defying international warnings as the regime of Kim Jong Un took a big step forward in its quest to develop a nuclear missile. The headline reads "Kim Jung Un's gambling, Obama to aim." (Associated Press)A South Korean man reads a newspaper Dec. 13, 2012, on a subway train in Seoul. The newspaper's headline reports North Korea's successful rocket launch the previous day, defying international warnings as the regime of Kim Jong Un took a big step forward in its quest to develop a nuclear missile. The headline reads "Kim Jung Un's gambling, Obama to aim." (Associated Press)
  • North Korean youths dance in front of the Pyongyang Grand Theatre in Pyongyang, North Korea, to celebrate a rocket launch on Dec. 12, 2012. (Associated Press)North Korean youths dance in front of the Pyongyang Grand Theatre in Pyongyang, North Korea, to celebrate a rocket launch on Dec. 12, 2012. (Associated Press)
  • South Korean protesters burn an effigy of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a rally in Seoul on Dec. 13, 2012, denouncing North Korea's rocket launch. (Associated Press)South Korean protesters burn an effigy of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a rally in Seoul on Dec. 13, 2012, denouncing North Korea's rocket launch. (Associated Press)
  • South Korean protesters hold the pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a rally in Seoul on Dec. 12, 2012, denouncing North Korea's rocket launch. The letters read "Out, Pro-North Korea politic." (Associated Press)South Korean protesters hold the pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a rally in Seoul on Dec. 12, 2012, denouncing North Korea's rocket launch. The letters read "Out, Pro-North Korea politic." (Associated Press)
  • ** FILE ** North Korean youths dance before the Pyongyang Grand Theatre in Pyongyang, North Korea, to celebrate a rocket launch on Dec. 12, 2012. (Associated Press)** FILE ** North Korean youths dance before the Pyongyang Grand Theatre in Pyongyang, North Korea, to celebrate a rocket launch on Dec. 12, 2012. (Associated Press)
  • South Korean protesters burn a mock rocket as police officers spray fire extinguishers during a rally in Seoul on Dec. 12, 2012, denouncing North Korea's rocket launch. (Associated Press)South Korean protesters burn a mock rocket as police officers spray fire extinguishers during a rally in Seoul on Dec. 12, 2012, denouncing North Korea's rocket launch. (Associated Press)
Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

SEOUL — North Korea’s successful launch of a long-range rocket early Wednesday, despite later difficulties controlling the weather satellite it was carrying, demonstrates significant technological development by the secretive communist state, analysts said.

What’s more, the launch of the Unha-3 rocket poses a national security threat for the United States and a difficult challenge for the international community to end North Korea’s illicit nuclear program.

“Any country that is successful in putting a satellite into orbit has intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, capability,” said Kim Tae-woo, an analyst on North Korea’s strategic programs and former chief of the Korea Institute of National Unification, a think tank in Seoul.

The surprise rocket launch — in defiance of U.N. resolutions and warnings by the international community — indicates that North Korea is working toward ICBM capability, which would enable it to hit targets far from its shores such as Alaska and Hawaii.

“They have not demonstrated a re-entry vehicle yet,” said Dan Pinkston, who heads the International Crisis Group’s office in Seoul. “But this is clearly what they are working on.”

Without a re-entry vehicle, a warhead on an ICBM would burn up in the atmosphere.

Still, former CIA official Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation, said the North Koreans’ successful launch “really brings the threat closer to home.”

Mr. Klingner noted that the missile technology can be shared with other countries such as Iran and Pakistan, which have helped North Korea develop its multistage rocket know-how throughout the past decade.

Surprise launch

North Korea launched a three-stage rocket carrying a weather satellite at 9:49 a.m. local time Wednesday from its Sohae (West Coast) Space Center. A similar launch in April ended with the rocket crashing into the Pacific.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirmed the launch’s success.

“Initial indications are that the first stage fell into the Yellow Sea. The second stage was assessed to fall into the Philippine Sea,” NORAD said. “Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit.”

Late Wednesday, there were signs that the satellite was tumbling in orbit, but Jonathan McDowell, a scholar at the Harvard University Center for Astrophysics, said that does not mean it would crash to Earth, or even that it was out of control.

“It very likely will remain in orbit for years,” he said.

“It is very likely that [the North Koreans] are still in contact with it,” he said, adding it was unclear whether the satellite was equipped with the maneuver capability that would be needed in order to stop the tumbling.

While the satellite continues to tumble, he said, it will not be able to produce the kind of weather imagery for which it apparently was designed.

Story Continues →

View Entire Story

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks