May 26, 2009

North Korea tests nuke, launches two missiles

POLITICS - Communist nation North Korea tested two more short-range missiles Tuesday, one day after its nuclear weapon test.

Pyongyang also warned ships to stay away from waters off its western coast this week, a sign the country may be gearing up for more missile tests. South Korea's coast guard says they will be maintaining their distance but keeping a watch out for more test missiles.

Yesterday North Korea conducted an underground atomic test in the northeast that the UN Security Council condemned as a "clear violation" of a 2006 resolution banning North Korea from developing its nuclear program.

The 2006 resolution apparently fell on deaf ears in North Korea, the so-called "Hermit Kingdom" because it rarely trades with other nations and has essentially cut itself off from the outside world.

The United States and Japan are pushing for strong action against North Korea for testing a bomb that Russian officials said was comparable in power to those that obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

Russia, once a key backer of North Korea, condemned the test and is also urging to punish North Korea through diplomatic sanctions, although many question how well sanctions work in a country that refuses to trade with outsiders and doesn't acknowledge the authority of the United Nations Security Council.

North Korea's test of a long-range missile in July 2006 and its first nuclear test in October 2006 (see North Korea's Nuclear Test - October 9th, 2006)drew stiff sanctions from the Security Council and orders to refrain from engaging in ballistic missile-related activity and to stop developing its nuclear program. Demands which were basically ignored.

Last month North Korea went ahead and launched a long-range rocket on April 5th. The rocket was a failure, but its goal was to reach the California coastal waters a mere stone's throw from the United States. It splashed down north of Hawaii instead.

Meanwhile South Korea (North Korea's enemy for over 50 years) announced today it would join a maritime web of more than 90 countries that intercept ships suspected of spreading weapons of mass destruction, a move North Korea warned would constitute an act of war if any North Korean ships are intercepted.

South Korea's capitol Seoul is mere miles from the DMZ between the two Korean nations and has 24.5 million people living in its metropolitan area. Its believed a nuclear war with North Korea would make Seoul the first target. Pusan, the second largest city and a military HQ, would be the second most likely target.

Kim Jong Il, North Korea's "Great Leader", had a stroke in 2008 (see North Korean Dictator suffers stroke) and has become increasingly erratic in his behaviour and aggression towards the USA.

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