North Korea Striking at the Alliance?

Unless the US destroys the Taepodong II when it is stood up at its Musandan-ri base, as some commentators advocated at the time of the first test in 2006, the North may again have calculated that this provocation is yet another no-lose ratcheting up of tensions. And it might further be calculating that the differences of opinion are not just between the North and its neighbors. Since the US emphasized in its judgment that the launch will be of a “space launch vehicle,” the South’s government has yet to fully associate itself with that conclusion. And it has further clarified its position by speaking of that distinction as being immaterial. Meanwhile, the Japanese have stepped out from under the US umbrella to say that they will shoot it down should it be falling toward their territory, a threat easier made than to successfully carry out. With the usual relative public quiescence of the Chinese and Russians, the North might be expecting nothing more than a befuddled or ineffectual response from its adversaries. This, as it reaches space, and others are forced to ponder where its weaponised plutonium might head if similarly propelled; and as its missile technology divides the US-SK-Japan alliance before its terms have been reestablished by the Obama administration.

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