(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL - March 31, 2009: The long-range missile North Korea is expected to test as soon as Saturday could reach as far as the U.S. and parts of western Europe. But U.S. military officials and other analysts say the development is dangerous not because North Korea is likely to use such missiles but because it will probably sell them to other countries, such as Iran. Conservative protesters burn a North Korean flag with a portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and a mock North Korean missile during an anti-North Korea rally denouncing the North's planned rocket launch near the U.S. embassy in Seoul March 30, 2009. The United States deployed a missile-interceptor ship from South Korea on Monday, a military spokesman said, days ahead of a North Korean rocket launch widely seen as a long-range missile test that violates U.N. sanctions. Protesters holding portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il shout slogans during an anti-North Korea rally, near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul Monday. A successful launch of a long-range missile, after two failures, would validate three decades of investment and work by North Korea. It could also boost one of the country's few major sources of income -- selling weapons to other countries. The only clues about the launch's trajectory are North Korea's documents, filed with the International Civil Aviation Organization and maritime authorities, for two areas where debris from the launch is likely to fall. The first is in the sea between North Korea and Japan; the second is in the Pacific Ocean, east of Japan. Intelligence officials are watching for signs that Iranian experts will participate in the launch as they did when North Korea last fired a long-range missile in July 2006. A Japanese newspaper, Sankei Shimbun, reported Monday that a group of 15 Iranian scientists and military experts arrived in North Korea to help with the test. The paper didn't name sources for the report, and officials in South Korea said Monday they couldn't confirm it. Since January, intelligence officials in South Korea, the U.S. and other countries have been monitoring preparations at the launch pad where North Korea last tested a long-range missile. North Korea has said between April 4 and 8 it will launch a rocket carrying a satellite to space, but most outsiders say that is a cover story for a missile test. On Monday, the U.S. deployed two missile-interceptor ships from South Korea to monitor the North's launch. U.S. officials have ruled out shooting down the North's projectile. While the precise range of the long-range missile isn't clear, Dennis Blair, the U.S. national intelligence director, told a Senate panel earlier this month that if the launch works, "it could reach not only Alaska, Hawaii, but also part" of the continental U.S. Protesters holding portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il shout slogans during an anti-North Korea rally, near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul Monday. Since preparations were discovered, analysts have speculated North Korea wants to use the launch to build dictator Kim Jong Il's reputation within the country and coax new U.S. President Barack Obama to provide more financial aid and reduce pressure on disarmament. The most concrete benefit for North Korea is its potential revenue from selling the technology. Almost a decade ago, North Korea reaped as much as $600 million annually from weapons sales. But two key customers, Pakistan and Libya, stopped doing business with it after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S. The North Korea-Iran weapons connection is well known in military-intelligence circles. In August, India blocked a North Korean plane from delivering cargo to Iran based on a U.S. request. North Korea is widely believed to have sent scientists to watch Iran test-fire a missile in February. "The sale of this system to Iran probably means hundreds of millions of dollars into the coffers of North Korea," says Bruce Bechtol, a former U.S. military intelligence officer who is now an analyst of North Korea's military. "This is all about proliferation. That is the most important issue." The long-range missile, called Taepodong 2 or Paektusan 2, is expected to be able to fly as far as 6,000 miles, enough to reach the western U.S. or parts of western Europe. The missile failed shortly after liftoff in the July 2006 test. In 1998, North Korea tested an earlier variant, which fell into the Pacific Ocean east of Japan during the second stage of its firing. Dan Pinkston, senior analyst at International Crisis Group in Seoul and author of a recent assessment of the North's missile systems, says the coming test will provide North Korea with new research data and, if successful, a chance to impress potential customers. It's likely to prove reliable enough to pose a threat to the U.S., Mr. Pinkston says, adding, "It's pretty shaky as far as the range goes." Experts also say North Korea is several years away from being able to place a warhead on a long-range missile. North Korea's military strategy is built around short- and mid-range missiles that can easily reach nearby South Korea and Japan, in hopes of being able to strike those countries definitively before retaliation can begin. That strategy emerged as North Korea's poverty rendered it less able to update weapons and facilities in the manner needed to sustain a protracted fight. In addition to missiles, North Korea has positioned 70% of its one-million-strong military within 100 kilometers of the border with South Korea.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
North Korean Launch Success Would Lead To Missile Sales
North Korean Launch Success Would Lead To Missile Sales