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  • North Korea Throws Down Missile Gauntlet

    Kim Jong-il (R Front), top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), meets with soldiers in Pyongyang

    North Korea’s launch of a long-range Taepo Dong 2 missile would be a direct challenge not just to the United States but to the international community’s resolve to confront threats to regional stability. Pyongyang’s willingness to escalate tensions shows that, despite the change in U.S. leadership, North Korea will not adopt a more accommodating stance.

    U.N. Resolutions 1695 and 1718 unambiguously prohibit Pyongyang from launching a missile or “satellite.” North Korea is characterizing the launch as a civilian satellite in order to minimize negative repercussions from its provocative act. Indeed, China and Russia may use this obfuscation to justify resistance to a strong U.N. Security Council response.

    Pyongyang calculates that international concerns over rising tensions would cause the U.S. and South Korea to soften demands for North Korea to fully comply with its denuclearization commitments. After all, the Bush Administration softened its position when North Korea threatened to reprocess plutonium in late 2008. North Korea’s actions may also be an attempt to trigger a resumption of bilateral negotiations which stalled at the end of the Clinton Administration. At that time, Pyongyang demanded $1 billion annually in return for a cessation of its missile exports.

    Pyongyang’s launch is a tangible manifestation of the continuing threat that ballistic missiles pose to the United States and its allies. A 2001 National Intelligence Estimate by the U.S. Intelligence Community assessed a two-stage Taepo Dong-2 could target Alaska, Hawaii, and the western United States while a three stage missile could threaten all of North America with a nuclear warhead.

    North Korea’s defiance represents the first foreign policy test of whether the Obama Administration’s actions will match its strong rhetoric. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have described the beginnings of a firm and principled approach to North Korea, including the need to impose additional sanctions if Pyongyang does not fully comply with its commitments. The U.S. response to North Korea’s missile provocation must therefore send a strong signal that Pyongyang cannot continue to benefit from brinksmanship and military threats. The ramifications of Obama’s response go far beyond the Korean Peninsula. After all, it was President Kennedy’s disastrously weak performance during a 1961 meeting with Nikita Khrushchev that inspired the Soviet leader to engage in the Berlin Crisis and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    The Obama Administration should implement a three-part response to North Korea’s violation of UN resolutions:

    • Implement punitive sanctions. Demand that all U.N. member nations fully implement the existing sanctions of U.N. Resolutions 1695 and 1718; request a firmer follow-on U.N. Security Council resolution that imposes stronger punitive measures as well as a deadline for compliance; and resume enforcing U.S. and international laws against North Korean illicit activities such as currency counterfeiting, money laundering, production and distribution of illegal drugs, and counterfeit pharmaceuticals.
    • Continue U.S. and allied missile defense development and deployment. Augment deployment of existing systems and continue development of enhanced missile defense capabilities and call on South Korea to deploy a multi-layered missile defense system that is interoperable with a U.S. regional missile network.
    • Augment non-proliferation efforts. Urge South Korea and China to join the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to better defend against North Korean proliferation of missile- and WMD-related technology and components


    cross posted at Team Washington

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to North Korea Throws Down Missile Gauntlet

    1. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      Respect North Korea's determination to launch their Taepo Dong firecracker. My only wish is to have a front row seat aboard our state's namesake, USS Texas (SSN-775), when they answer from the Sea of Japan, the Yellow Sea or Korea Bay with a much larger bang. It'll be "Operation Pyongyang Barbecue".

    2. Spiritof76, New Hamp says:

      Watch Obama waving a white flag to his comrade of N.Korea. It is after all our belligerence that causes all the world conflicts, according to Obama.

      Newt Gingrich said that only thing they have to master is to be able to detonate a nuclear bomb over the US to simply cripple our infrastructure for years to come with millions of Americans dead-Electro-Magnetic Pulse detonation.

    3. P. J. Sebastian, Philadelphia says:

      I feel better already: “UN Resolutions unambiguously prohibit” the missle launch by North Korea. Well, I’m sure glad they’ve moved away from those ‘ambiguous’ prohibitions. Next, “North Korea’s Defiance” – as if THIS is new. Who cares? Let the Chinese handle it because, as you know, we will be able to do nothing in that region that is not approved of by the PRC. A ‘principled’ approach to North Korea – ah yes, we have been so ‘unprincipled’ over the last several presidential administrations – and ‘sanctions’ – interesting, haven’t we had sanctions against North Korea for decades now, and remind me, how effective have they been? The script goes that they rattle their sabers (missles; nuclear facilities)and we (including the Chinese) send them money. “U.S. response to North Korea’s missile provocation must therefore send a strong signal that Pyongyang cannot continue to benefit from brinksmanship and military threats.” Please, they’ve benefited each and every time they’ve taken such an action. This article is written as if we still live in a world of American Hegemony – we don’t, particularly in Asia. “Urging” China to take action is pointless – they’ll do what they should do: whatever is in their best interest and collective security. South Korea? Sorry, we already have troops on the ground and pay for their security as it stands, so urging them to do something is like looking in the mirror and asking for action. Just leave them be. They are not a threat – China will ensure the necessary containment. Asia is not the Middle East where there exists no country capable of challenging our presence. All action in the Far East starts and ends with China. Let them take care of their backyard like we try to do with ours in North America. I’m not promoting isolationism at all, rather, I propose rationalizing areas of responsibility. We can’t be all things to all people, so let China take care of its region.

    4. Mike, Alaska says:

      Living in Anchorage and knowing that one of these could be headed our way, I find comfort and confidence in the actions and track record of our current statesmen…

      I expect that rhetoric and appeasement are the weapons of choice for this administration. Both approaches have worked so well in the past to stem the North Korean's zeal toward deploying an operational ICBM.

      Or maybe not.

      I was able to see the first Taepo Dong launch that violated Japan's airspace from a few miles offshore NK. I wondered at the time what America's and the international community's response would be.

      As I recall, one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

      God help us.

    5. P. J. Sebastian, Phi says:

      That was some 'gauntlet' the North Korean's laid down. Certainly worth a strong rebuke from the U.N and of course, millions of dollars in aid, food, etc. I do not mean to downplay or in someway minimize the sense of fear that many people may feel given their proximity to NK's missle, but what about the thousands of troops, American and South Korean, standing guard at the border? What about them? They live with this kind of proximity to madness each and every day and yet we somehow, unwittingly I'm sure, discount their well-being. Leave North Korea to self-destruct and leave it to the Chinese. Pray for the 99% of North Koreans who suffer from fear far worse than anything we can ever feel with the launch of a mere missile.

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