The North Korea Problem
Image Credit: Flickr (yeowatzup)

The North Korea Problem


After announcing that its rocket was facing technical difficulties that might delay its impending test, North Korea surprised the international community by abruptly launching a three-stage rocket on Wednesday morning local time. Even more surprising than the timing was that the “Unha” (the Korean word for “galaxy”) rocket appears to have successfully placed the Kwangmyongsong-3 (“Shining Star-3”) satellite into orbit, albeit there are reports that it is encountering difficulties.

But space enthusiasts have nothing to cheer. Under the guise of developing a space launch vehicle, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is pursuing an intercontinental-range missile (ICBM) capability that would allow it reach targets as far away as California and Alaska.  Long-range rockets designed as space delivery vehicles and long-range ballistic missiles intended to carry warheads use similar engines, boosters, and other technologies, though a satellite can be made lighter than a nuclear warhead, which needs a dense heat shield to withstand the high temperatures encountered in reentering the earth’s atmosphere. The Kwangmyongsong-3 weighs an estimated 100 kilograms, whereas a typical nuclear warhead weighs ten times more, though a good designer can make them far smaller and therefore lighter.

This was the fifth time the DPRK test launched a three-stage long-range missile potentially designed to reach the continental United States. Although the first four rocket tests failed, this most recent one has unexpectedly succeeded. The DPRK’s Taepodong (DPRK-named as Paektusan) long-range missiles use essentially the same technology as Unha and Paektusan rockets. The three-stage variants of these missiles have a potential range of perhaps 6,000-10,000 kilometers depending on the size of the payload it’s carrying, making it potentially sufficient to reach the western continental United States, which is roughly 9,000 km from North Korea.

The second rocket launch this year is yet another sign that the new generation of leaders in Pyongyang, led by Kim Jong-un, who assumed office last December, have not fundamentally departed from Kim Jong-il’s foreign and defense policies. In fact, DPRK propaganda has used the rocket test to glorify the achievements of the Kim dynasty. The DPRK’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that, “At a time when great yearnings and reverence for Kim Jong-il pervade the whole country, its scientists and technicians brilliantly carried out his behests to launch a scientific and technological satellite in 2012, the year marking the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung,” a reference to North Korea’s first leader and Kim Jong-un’s grandfather. The launch also commemorates the first anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death, and more than compensates for the embarrassment Kim Jong-un suffered when the test in April proved to be a spectacular failure.

ug lee
May 9, 2013 at 02:04

they said that china is not going to be friends with nk

[...] volte a Pyongyang di dare qualche segnale concreto della propria volontà di trattare. Tuttavia, questo approccio ha i suoi inconvenienti. In primo luogo, concede a Pyongyang il tempo necessario per perfezionare il proprio programma [...]

Soh Moon-sim
December 26, 2012 at 02:38

Aye, and I wonder the article is captioned : The North Korea Problem?  Person from my perspective, the issue should be "The Problem Called US".

December 24, 2012 at 01:25

The world may not believe that NK’s nuk may be dropped on China at end. That will be very interesting. If we look into what different between China and NK, it is possible. Maybe very likely.

December 22, 2012 at 03:33

@ China Troll
Ah resorting to swear words to try and smear what I am saying? Do you have any idea how angry and pathetic you sound? The only ones with the agenda's are the ones constantly changing their names like yourself and John Chan who is multiple people using one name. Communist propaganda might be able to work on rural uneducated chinese but on educated westerners you come across as a laughing stock.
What do I have to give up? Do you think I am not French simply because I can write in proper english and use correct grammar? Please, give up the hostility, I am a French citizen currently studying in the US, no need to go on about some sort of whacko conspiracy. However if you want to keep thinking that please go ahead, it won't stop me from posting here either way.

Robert Bennett
December 21, 2012 at 09:19

Countries which were allies of the US became involved in the Korean War because the USSR was not present at the Security Council meeting and the US pushed a resolution thru. At that time China was represented in the SC by the Nationalists who had just escaped to Taiwan. The US had installed Synman Rhee as a dictator in the South and had refused to hold election in all of Korea as they knew that Kim il Sung would win as he was a national hero and his followers were the only Koreans who fought the Japanese occupation. At the time, the US was obsessed with "communism" and was not sufficiently mature to see that nationalism is a stronger force. Secretary of State Allen Dulles even refused to shake the hand of Chinese foreign minister Zhou En Lai at the Geneva Conference in 1954. The Chinese wanted to have normal diplomatic relations with the US, but that handshake had to wait until 1974 and Kissiinger/Nixon. One side effect was that the US dropped its pet, the Dalai Lama so as to appease the Chinese. If the US were to sign a peace treaty and recognize NK the tension would wind down. But so would the profits of the arms industry.

Detestable US Trolls
December 20, 2012 at 03:33

"Jean Paul" – the pseudo French – why don't you give up your BS?  There are no such things as wu-mao poster, just incensed people reading your BS daily about China and all things Chinese.  We know you are paid full time troll/sockpuppet  under the cover of the blog. So, don't ascribe to free opinionated readers what you in essence are. Your dishonesty and lies are just apalling. Rest assure the world and readers of this blog are fully aware of your dastardly agenda.  Up yours *rsehole!

December 19, 2012 at 03:29

By "Don't worry Charlie, we're all with you" do you mean the 50 cent brigade? It seems that the only ones changing their names are you guys, just look at this thread as an example "Washington’s Unceasing Slanders" & "Survival In A Hostile World" oh and lets not forget Be Way, Santa, and the infamous laughing stock John Chan who is actually multiple people all using the same name.
Do you guys have some sort of contest going on where the Wumao with the most ridiculous username gets double the normal 50 cent rate?

Washington's Unceasing Slanders
December 18, 2012 at 18:19

Don't worry Charlie, we're all with you.  All these "different" commentators attacking your opinion are not so different.  Just the same small bunch of US paid trolls attacking under different assumed names all the time. Your view is right and you've got it right. N Korea is too impoverished to threaten any one.  It is only Washington twisting everything around.  It is the US's behaviour which should be placed in the dock of world opinion.  Its arrogant and deceitful and bullying behaviour needs to be censured and its trolls incarcerated. 
If anything, it is becoming clearer and clearer that the US is the anti-Christ, the great pretender who will lead the world to Armageddon.  It pretends to be good when it is actually exceedingly bad, nay, evil.  Its "Ministry of Propaganda" just keeps trying to pull the wool over the world's eyes every day!

December 18, 2012 at 14:26

 "NK is like china's evil henchman…"
But North Korea didn't occupy foreign territory like Israel.

December 18, 2012 at 09:58

I agree Leonard. this is a china problem. bankotsu never really felt threatened by NK rockets… after all, NK would never bomb their chinese masters.  for the rest of us in asia (asia is not just china.. duh)… NK is like china's evil henchman… pathetic by dangerous especially if it follows its wily chinese mastermind.

Be Way
December 18, 2012 at 05:23

North Korea will be peaceful if nobody disturb them.    However we don't expect America to understand what is peace based on its violent homicide rate at home as well as its involvement in the many brutal attacks on foreign sovereign nations.

December 18, 2012 at 01:27

"I am in Asia and I don't feel any threat at all from North Korea."   You are also well-known here for for not being able to distinguish fact from Chinese (or North Korean or Russian) propaganda.
Can't you think of maybe a a few differences between India and North Korea?

December 18, 2012 at 01:23

These issues are simply "above your pay grade," Charlie. Continue to get your info from comic books and the less-reliable Russia Today.

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