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June 19, 2006
More Sanctions Threatened For NoKo Missile Launch

North Korea's impending missile test has captured the attention of the United States and Japan, with both countries threatening new sanctions in response to any missile launch:

North Korea has finished loading fuel into a long-range ballistic missile, a Bush administration official said Monday as signs continued that the reclusive communist state will soon test a weapon that could reach the United States.

U.S. intelligence indicates that the long-range missile, believed to be a Taepodong-2, is assembled and fully fueled, said the official, who requested anonymity because the information comes from sensitive intelligence methods.

That reportedly gives the North a launch window of about a month. ...

The United States, Japan, Australia and News Zealand all cautioned the impoverished country that a test would bring serious consequences and further isolate the regime. The White House has warned of an appropriate response and Japan has threatened a "fierce" protest to the United Nations.

"Japan has been urging North Korea to stop the attempt to launch a missile," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said. "We are making efforts to urge North Korea to act rationally and with self-restraint."

"If it does not listen to us and fires a missile, we have to consult with the United States and take stern measures," he added.

Different analyses of the fuel status of the missile say that the North Koreans would have to launch the missile in a window that may be as short as 48 hours or, as the AP states above, within a month. Leaving a missile fully fueled will eventually damage the missile, so either Pyongyang would have to launch or go through the dangerous step of defueling the rocket.

Of course, this could be another bluff by Kim Jong-Il in order to wrest more concessions from the six-party talks on their nuclear program. They used a rather flimsy diplomatic excuse by saying a Russian editorial supported their right to defend against overflights of North Korea by American espionage aircraft and presumably satellites as well. The rocket itself has a predicted range of 9,000 miles -- which could reach Chicago in a ballistic flight.

The responses so far do not hold too much worry for North Korea. Japan wants to engage the UN by lodging a "fierce protest", but that has all the strength of the proverbial strongly-worded memo. One would hope that the US and Japan might have some anti-missile systems in the area that we could test against their launch, voiding their data and making a completely different impression than the one Pyongyang intends. The short window means we will likely see a quick resolution -- and probably a de-escalation by Kim, who seems to pull these stunts whenever he feels that the media has ignored him too long.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 19, 2006 10:56 AM

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» N. Korea: We Will "Wipe Out" US Forces from
As North Korea readies to launch its first major launching of a ballistic missile in nearly eight years, the country has issued a dire warning to the US:North Korea yesterday threatened to “mercilessly wipe out” US forces in case of [Read More]

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Tracked on June 19, 2006 11:01 PM


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