Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Artificial fear

North Korea's launch of an "artificial satellite," as
claimed by Pyongyang, has ended in failure since the
second and third-stages of the missile plunged into
the Pacific Ocean, according to U.S. forces.

North Korea's missile launch leaves plenty of
questions unanswered, as the Mainichi shimbun writes
today (click the title to access the report). One
questions is that it took time for the Japanese and
their US allies' authorities to detect the rocket and
inform the population. Therefore announcements to
protect citizens came too late when the missile
already was flying above Japan's territory. What
could happen if next time is a real technical hazard or
a nuke payload?

Quotes of Japanese Defense Ministry

"When the missile's path was calculated, it turned
highly likely that the missile was flying at an
altitude beyond the firing range of the SM-3
interceptor missile (less than 300 kilometers), and
the missile was certain to fly over Japan," said a
senior Defense Ministry official. The point where the
missile was estimated to fall was also outside
Japanese territory. The missile's path was beyond the
range of the PAC-3 interceptor missiles (a radius of
about 20 kilometers) deployed at the SDF's two
exercise sites in Akita and Iwate prefectures."

Rather than a nuke bomb, Japan could well received
debris on the head as DPRK technology seems immature.
Therefore, further Self Defense plans required.

Defense Ministry: "the flight course of the latest
missile is almost the same as that of the Taepodong-1
that was launched back in 1998 but this time it veered
further south. The course this time is to the east of
North Korea, which is an appropriate direction for the
country to launch an artificial satellite, but at the
same time, Hawaii and ultimately the U.S. mainland
also lie in this direction. The firing of the missile
will no doubt lead to a strong reaction from
Washington, which is wary of the development of
long-range ballistic missiles that are capable of
reaching the U.S. mainland."

Then what?

"A satellite launch requires a complicated system.
North Korea's technology is only a patchwork of
individual established technologies including that of
the former Soviet Union's Scud missiles, and North
Korea apparently failed to integrate them as a new

Shinya Matsuura, specialist in space development.

One victim

Kyodo News A Defense Ministry official jumped off a
headquarters building in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, in an
apparent suicide Monday morning, the ministry said. A
member of the Air Staff Office, the official started
working at the ministry Wednesday, the ministry said,
adding he was not involved in the false alarm Saturday
over North Korea's rocket launch.

Maybe not good timing to irritate the DPRK for the 6
party talks anyway, slow though that may be.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Pyongyang's rocket! MD and Japan's military capabilities questioned

Where is, if there is one, the 3rd stage of the North
Korea rocket-missile? South Korea and the US military
(NORAD) stated that the "satellite" (theoretically
advanced as being located on the top of the 3rd stage
Milky Way 2 Unha-2) never made it into space! Anyone
in the communication industry and business aware of a
request by Pyongyang to launch new telecommunication


Shunji HIRAIWA, Shizuoka prefecture University, Japan:
"North Korea is likely to judge that its negotiating
position has been strengthened now that is has both
the 'nuclear and missile cards'. So they are likely
to take a very tough stance toward the international

Stoic South Koreans and Japanese watching news on the
DPRK missile launch

Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors (PAC-3)
located at the Ministry of Defense Tokyo, Japan, March

A Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile launch
at the JSDF' Araya military exercise ground, Akita
prefecture, North Japan

Pyongyang said the rocket would be launched to put a
satellite into orbit. Tokyo had authorized the
Self-Defense Forces to shoot down any part of the
rocket if it appeared to be falling onto Japanese
territory. Japan did not try to intercept the North
Korean rocket Sunday following its launch from North
Korea's northeastern coast, the Defense Ministry said.

Japan's military preparedness and confidence seriously
questioned in case of an enemy offensive targeting the
archipelago, as seen on Sunday after Pyongyang's
launching of a rocket, in spite of an impressive
defense budget effort. 5 billion euros paid by
Japanese for a Missile Defense shield that still
raises lots of questions vis-a-vis the US Japan
military alliance. Lots of questions to be answered!

False alarm

After a false information of a DPRK rocket launching,
proved erroneous later on Saturday, we saw nervous
behavior, hysterical medias alarms and suddenly
retracted explanations, added to the confusion. It
gives to the Japanese public the impression that the
US Japan military alliance appeared not ready "to face
the enemy". Responsibility stays in the failures in
the line of command and the monitoring of threats and
the answer to confront such threat.

Massive deployment for Japan and US forces

Three MSDF Aegis destroyers, including the Kongo, were
deployed to the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean.
Five U.S. Aegis destroyers based at the Yokosuka
Naval Base in Kanagawa Prefecture, and the USS Chafee,
which recently completed a joint exercise with South
Korea, were deployed. Another destroyer, making a
port call at Yokosuka from its Hawaii base, will
monitor developments in the Pacific. Of the nine
destroyers, seven are equipped with interceptor
missiles. Several Japanese and American submarines
are also believed to be operating near the Korean

EP-3 electronic surveillance aircrafts are patrolling
the skies over the Sea of Japan from their base in
Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture. 20 are in Naha base in
Okinawa on the JASDF base. Since February, the United
States has put three observation aircraft in place at
Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture, including an
RC-135S Cobra Ball, which is an airborne intelligence
platform used to track ballistic-missile launches. The
Defense Ministry also completed installation of FPS-5
radar on Shimokoshikijima island in Kagoshima
Prefecture in March. The radar began operating
Wednesday and was to transmit information about the
launch to the Aegis destroyers and the units operating
the PAC-3 missiles. In the end: North Korea spent
about just $30 million to launch a rocket across the
Pacific April 4, but it still needs foreign aid to
prevent a mass famine... while Japan and US spend
massive $ and Yen amounts for... nothing sure!

Added threat?

Iran involved according to Gordon Chang, author of
"Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World"
(Random House, 2006)


"So far, Obama Administration's policy has been all
carrot and no stick, and, from all appearances, it
will remain that way for some time. This approach
obviously failed to prevent yesterday's launch and
promises no breakthrough in the future. North Korea
has been trying to build nuclear weapons and the means
to deliver them since the early 1980s and maybe even
as early as the mid-1960s.

Ineffective American diplomacy has only given the
world's most militarized state the one thing it needed
most to develop the world's most destructive weapons :
time. Unfortunately, the consequences of feckless
American diplomacy will not be limited to North Asia.

As a spokesman for South Korean President Lee
Myung-bak said after the launch, North Korea's act
constitutes a "serious threat" not just to the Korean
peninsula but also the rest of the world. He's right
because North Korea is not just about Korea.
Yesterday's test also impacts Iran. The atomic
ayatollahs of the Islamic Republic are surely
interpreting ineffective American diplomacy in Korea
as a big green light for their own weapons ambitions.

How are the two regimes connected? On March 29,
Sankei Shimbun, the conservative-leaning Tokyo paper,
reported that 15 Iranians were in North Korea to
provide assistance for the then-impending launch. Ten
Iranians were in North Korea for the Taepodong-2 test
in July 2006 according to the Los Angeles Times, and
the State Department's Christopher Hill, then
Washington's point man on Korea, confirmed their
presence (he later retracted his confirmation). There
are also reports that Iranians witnessed North Korea's
1998 Taepodong test.

In February, North Korean scientists were spotted in
Iran for the launch of an Iranian missile. Moreover,
American intelligence sources indicate Iran tested a
North Korean missile for Pyongyang. The North Koreans
possibly provided missile flight-test data to Iran.
Iran has been financing the North Korean program
either by purchasing the North's missiles or by
sharing development costs and receiving missiles in
return. Iranian support explains how a destitute
North Korea has the funds to carry on a sophisticated
weapons program."

En français:

La Corée du nord dit être parvenue dimanche à placer
un satellite en orbite, a affirmé l'agence de presse
officielle du régime communiste KCNA — en fait, la
tentative de mise en orbite aurait échoué, a indiqué
l'armée américaine, en affirmant que «l'engin a
atterri dans l'océan Pacifique», une information
corroborée par la Corée du Sud. Les Etats-Unis, (la
Coré du sud) et le Japon, qui soupçonnaient un essai
de missile déguisé, ont obtenu une réunion d'urgence
du Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU.

Si la Corée du Nord décrit son satellite comme un
satellite de télécommunications civil, Washington et
ses alliés affirment en revanche qu'il s'agit d'un
missile à longue portée Taepodong-2

Pour Tokyo, Washington, Séoul et Londres, ce tir
intervient en violation de deux résolutions adoptées
en 2006 par le Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU sommant la
Corée communiste de «s'abstenir de tout nouvel essai
nucléaire ou tir de missile balistique». Le président
américain Barack Obama souhaite d'ailleurs obtenir la
ratification par le Sénat du traité d'interdiction
complète des essais nucléaires (CTBT)

L'hexagone a également condamné le lancement de cette
fusée, estimant qu'il «menace la paix et la stabilité
régionale», selon un communiqué du ministère des
Affaires étrangères. Nicolas Sarkozy a ajouté
dimanche: «C'est une provocation, c'est un régime qui
se met hors la loi internationale. Je condamne avec
la plus grande fermeté cette provocation», a-t-il
déclaré. Sarkozy: «Il n'y a qu'une seule réponse,
l'union de la communauté internationale pour
sanctionner un régime qui ne respecte aucune des
règles internationales . Ma position pour la Corée du
Nord est la même que pour l'Iran: ensemble la
communauté internationale va isoler ces régimes, doit
se prononcer sur des sanctions renforcées tant qu'ils
n'ont pas compris qu'ils n'ont pas à avoir une
attitude agressive sur le nucléaire militaire».

Moscou livrera sa réaction officielle une fois que ses
experts auront fini d'examiner le lancement
nord-coréen, a de son côté déclaré le porte-parole du
ministère, Andrei Nesterenko. «Le lancement de la
fusée a été surveillé depuis Moscou. Il n'a
clairement pas dévié de sa trajectoire. Mais tout
cela doit être étudié par des experts militaires»,
a-t-il ajouté, cité par l'agence Interfax.