April 5, 2009

North Korea launches missile over Japan

POLITICS - The United States and its allies are worried today after North Korea's defiant launch of a rocket that fizzled and crashed into the Pacific, holding an emergency UN meeting in response to fears the country was testing long-range missile technology.

American military sources said the launch was a failure, saying that the rocket's payload failed to enter into orbit and crashed into the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii.

Officials in Pyongyang North Korea claims the missile launched an experimental communications satellite into orbit and that it's transmitting data and patriotic songs.

United States President Barack Obama called for a global response and condemned North Korea for threatening the peace and stability of nations "near and far." Minutes after the North Korean missile's liftoff, Japan requested the emergency Security Council session in New York.

The North Korean government characterized the act as a successful, peaceful launch of a satellite into orbit and North Korea's news agency, KCNA, said that "scientists and technicians of the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] have succeeded in putting satellite Kwangmyongsong-2, an experimental communications satellite, into orbit by means of carrier rocket Unha-2 under the state long-term plan for the development of outer space."

However the United States and South Korean officials say the entire rocket, including whatever payload it carried, ended up in the ocean north of Hawaii. Many world leaders fear the launch indicates the capacity for North Korea to fire a long-range missile capable of hitting Alaska, Canada or California.

"North Korea broke the rules, once again, by testing a rocket that could be used for long-range missiles," Obama said in Prague. "It creates instability in their region, around the world. This provocation underscores the need for action, not just this afternoon in the UN Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons."

U.N. council members is seeking an unified response and did not expect to reach agreement on a new resolution, possibly with tighter or added sanctions, until later in the week.

North Korea is a rogue communist state that has repeatedly threatened a renewed war against the USA (the Korean War never officially ended and the USA and North Korea have been in a state of cold war ever since). So far North Korea has carried out an underground nuclear blast (see North Korea's Nuclear Test) and tested ballistic missiles in recent years, showing they are determined to fight the "imperialist American regime".

Unlike its previous events North Korea notified the international community that the launch was coming and the route the rocket would take, insisting all the while it was just a satellite launch. Using a loophole in sanctions imposed after the 2006 nuclear test that barred the North from ballistic missile activity, so North Korea claims it is just exercising its right to peaceful space development.

Recovery of the missile fuselage will determine whether North Korea was really just testing a missile for war, and whether they have violated United Nations sanctions against missile tests.

"Obviously today's action by North Korea constitutes a clear violation," said Susan Rice, the United States ambassador to the United Nations. "My government has called this a provocative act, and we have been in consultation today with our allies in the region and other partners on the Security Council ... to work toward agreement on a strong collective action."

In past years China and Russia has been selling missile technology and nuclear materials to North Korea and Iran.

Yukio Takasu, Japan's ambassador to the UN, called the launch "a clear crime" that violates UN Security Council demands and that the launch posed a grave threat to Japan's national security.

If a war broke out with North Korea, its believed North Korea's best strategy would be to launch nukes at military bases in South Korea, Japan, Hawaii and Alaska. In a worst case scenario, North Korea could get ships or submarines within range of launching nukes on the continental United States.

Protests in South Korea against the missile launch continue today.

See Also:
North Korea to launch missile satellite into orbit
Ten Worst Places to Live

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