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To test or not to test?

on Fri, 04/13/2012 - 19:35

With the failure of a launched missile, should North Korea listen to the international community or face the consequences?

New fears over the regime’s failed long range missile test have led the White House to warn North Korea of possible new sanctions posed upon them.  Ending in less than two minutes after liftoff, the Unha-3 rocked exploded into 20 pieces and fell into the Yellow Sea as the whole world watched. Pyongyang ignored 11th hour pleas from  Japan, the US, and South Korea explaining they only sought to put an observation satellite into orbit around the earth. After the launch, the US announced that the North had violated UN Security Council resolutions that banned the country from developing long-range missile technology.

While the US and North Korea battle it out, the world wonders what is next?

From a western view, this failed test is a good thing. Yet, failures are inevitable and the North Koreans are putting on a brave face to show to the world and continuing on. Experts believe that the next step will include experiments from a nuclear tunnel that Pyongyang will use to launch a nuclear test soon.

If launched, a nuclear weapon would reach Japan. North Korea has one large problem: they do not know how to raise the explosive yield. If a nuclear missile is launched tomorrow, it would really only reach Japan and South Korea. However, the country has made announcements about fusion weapons or H bombs; a nuclear test would allow the Koreans to play with their new toys.

Flying within 62 miles of the country’s coast, South Korea denounces this failed rocket launch but is not surprised that the North has once again defied the international community. Citizens do believe that the rest of the world should follow in the US’s footsteps in cancelling food aid and take a strong stance against this. Intelligence estimates in Seoul had predicted that the launch will cost the North Koreans $850 million- enough money to feed 19 million people for a year.

What will happen to the two Koreas? The possibility of intra-Korean tension is extremely high and the South’s navy is only growing stronger. The Guardian states that “the sight of the South Korean navy plowing the waters near the maritime border with the North will only strengthen the view that the launch was a propaganda exercise gone embarrassingly wrong.” If the launch had not failed, this only would have strengthened Kim’s position and demonstrated the emergence of the North as a developed state.

As the UN Security Council meets today, this failed launch only raises the possibility of an entirely new round of international negotiations and sanctions. On Thursday, Hillary Clinton said, “Pyongyang has a clear choice. It can pursue peace and reap the benefits of closer ties with the international community or it can continue to face pressure and isolation.”

Will North Korea listen to the UN and international community? Or will Pyongyang continue on its path towards launching its third nuclear test and disregard all sanctions and consequences?



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