Chris Gray writes from Pyongyang: The countdown to the launch of Milky Way 3 long range rocket has been basically started in North Korea, to the sound of other nations complaining that it would constitute a breach of United Nation’s resolutions – as if anyone pays any attention to them – and of the promise made, in haste, by Pyongyang to refrain from any activity that could be interpreted as part of developing its nuclear capability.
The official version in North Korea is that Milky Way 3 will carry a weather satellite that would monitor the rural areas – for signs of life no doubt – and that the launch would be conducted in memory of the founder of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung, who, had he been still alive, would have hit 100 this April. Considering that the great man’s birthday falls on April 15, it sort of makes sense to presume that the rocket will be launched on that day or around it.
The strangest reaction to the forthcoming launch comes from Japan which has created an anti-missile shield around Tokyo, to protect it from whatever it is that the Japanese government thinks may happen, and deploying an anti-ballistic missile system on the Island of Okinawa, threatening to shoot down any parts of the rocket which may fall on Japanese territory. Responding in kind, Pyongyang threatened to treat this as an act of war, even though it would mean blasting bits of metal from the sky that would serve no purpose anyway. Not to be outdone by Japan, South Korea also stated that if parts of the rocket fall on its soil it would take drastic steps and destroy them. And, of course, Pyongyang shook a fist at Seoul as well, threatening revenge.
Meanwhile the international community, as the UN likes to call itself, is of course aghast with concern over the planned launch, making the usual useless noises that everyone knows would not change anything. The West that has lost all cred after the war in Iraq and the shameful regime change in Libya, is talking rubbish as well, pretending that it occupies some moral high ground in the stand-off with North Korea. Incidentally, Washington was very quick to use food aid to North Korea as leverage to get it to postpone the launch , even though it knows that tens of thousands of people would die if it didn’t provide assistance. All of a sudden democracy-loving yanks, who seem to be concerned these days with every life lost in Syria, are not worried by the death of a much bigger number in North Korea, bloody hypocrites.
People, who claim to know things, say that the launch of the long-range rocket may be a prelude to the third nuclear test in North Korea. They point out that the two previous tests, carried out in 2006 and 2009, were preceded by launches of ballistic missiles. Some keen North Korea watchers even claim that serious goings on have been noticed in the city of Punggye-ri where the first two tests were carried out.
By some estimates the communist regime in North Korea has enough enriched plutonium to produce up to eight nukes. And that obviously makes the communist rogue state an unlikely target for any Western style invasion. It’s one thing battling Libya’s outdated army and it’s another thing altogether looking at a possibility of several mushroom clouds rising across Asia.
The only country that can have any influence on North Korea, China, is currently pretending that it is deeply concerned with the forthcoming launch but doesn’t really do anything about it, as deep down the Chinese communist leadership has a soft spot for young Kim Jong Un, who is keeping his people at bay and not letting them flood into China, all at once, in search of food and jobs.
Funny thing, international tension. So many players, so much confusion and meaningless posturing.