Thursday, September 23, 2004


Much of East Asia and beyond is awash with speculation concerning a possible DPRK missile launch (much of what follows is taken from the invaluable NAPSNET daily report. If you don't already get this, what are you waiting for?).

Japanese media reported signs of preparations for a missile test:
The Yomiuri Shimbun ("SIGNS INDICATE N. KOREA PREPARING TO LAUNCH RODONG MISSILE", 2004-09-23) reported that indications that the DPRK is preparing to launch a Rodong ballistic missile, which has the range to cover most of the Japanese archipelago, have been observed, government sources reported Wednesday
A visual depiction of what analysts think the Rodong/Nodong missile's range can be viewed here.

The New York Times echoed similar thoughts, albeit in a curiously ambiguous fashion:
The New York Times ("NORTH KOREA TEST FEARED", 2004-09-23) reported that the US and Japan have detected signs that the DPRK is preparing to launch a ballistic missile with a range capable of hitting almost all of Japan, Japanese government sources said Thursday. "At this stage we don't think North Korea's missile launch is imminent," one source told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "But we still don't know whether North Korea is serious about missile launches."
So, we don't know anything for sure, but with those secretive North Koreans, one never knows.

The ROK weighs in with equal ambiguity, but points out that the DPRK does carry out military maneuvers from time to time:
Korea Times ("SEOUL ALERT FOR POSSIBLE N. KOREAN MISSILE TEST", 2004-09-23) reported that the ROK has detected the movements of missile units in the DPRK but believes they are part of routine exercises, the Defense Ministry said Thursday. "While South Korean intelligence officials, as well as their U.S. counterparts, have 'partially' discerned missile-related movements in the North, there seems to be annual military exercises going on," ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Nam Dae-youn said at a news conference.

The PRC not so subtly warns the DPRK to avoid any "complications"
Agence France-Presse ("CHINA URGES EFFORTS TO AVOID 'COMPLICATING' NKOREA SITUATION ", 2004-09-23) reported that the PRC Thursday urged all parties to avoid "complicating" the situation on the Korean peninsula, amid reports that the DPRK might be preparing to test-fire a missile. "What I want to emphasize is that we need to make efforts to avoid complicating the situation on the Korean peninsula, so we can prepare for the next round of talks as soon as possible," foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan said.

Don't worry too much about it, says Koizumi:
Kyodo ("KOIZUMI SAYS N. KOREA UNLIKELY TO TEST-FIRE MISSILE", 2004-09-23) reported that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Thursday that the DPRK is unlikely to test-fire another ballistic missile. "I think the possibility of launching one is low," Koizumi told reporters outside his official residence.

Seems prudent enough, although it is an interesting response to North Korea's declaration that it could turn Japan into "a sea of nuclear fire" and will do so if the DPRK is attacked by the US:
Agence France-Presse ("NORTH KOREA THREATENS TO TURN JAPAN INTO "NUCLEAR SEA OF FIRE" ", 2004-09-23) reported that the DPRK threatened Thursday to turn Japan into a "nuclear sea of fire" if it comes under attack from the US. "If the United States ignites a nuclear war, the US military bases in Japan would serve as a detonating fuse to turn Japan into a nuclear sea of fire," the DPRK's ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in a
Korean-language article monitored by ROK's Yonhap news agency. In an English-language article published by Pyongyang's official KCNA news agency, Rodong accused the US of converting Japan into "strategic vantage points" for a pre-emptive attack on the DPRK.

So, at the end of the day, what do we know now that we didn't know a week ago? Not much. We know that the DPRK has Rodong missiles. We know that the DPRK conducts frequent military exercises. We know that the DPRK doesn't really care for the U.S. and Japan and often expresses these feelings in rather vivid and provocative language. And we know that newspapers the world over like to run breathless stories of looming danger and impending threat even when some of the experts the reporters consult caution that we don't really know what the DPRK is up to. Sounds about par for the course.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?