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North Korea Celebrates American 4th Of July With Missile Launches

As expected, North Korea attempted to steal a little attention for their impoverished nation by firing seven ballistic missiles. However, even the news coverage from China wasn't very supportive of this action at all. The Chinese News agency Xinhua noted that these missile launches only raised "international concerns over regional security". Even a South Korean military official noted that these missile tests seemed to intended to send a message to the United States on their Independence Day celebration. So far, on the official North Korean government news service, KOREAN NEWS, there was no news about the launches and simply the usual nonsense claiming that the Communist founder of North Korea, Kim Il Sung somehow brought "prosperity" to the impoverished and famine ridden nation, and other outright political propaganda nonsense. northkorea scud.jpg

KOREAN NEWS is actually a pretty sad national news website. It makes outrageous charges and claims, yet does not post any photos to prove any of the claims. It is propaganda journalism of the very worst variety.

North Korea's best hope is to use these latest total of 11 missile tests, which only included short range Scud class type missiles of about a 400-500km range or about 310 miles, to hope to wring some new concessions from the United States such as fuel oil or food. However, the Obama Administration has decided to part from the previous Bush administration's policy of rewarding North Korean missile launches with more fuel or food aid, by instead is digging in it's heels and denouncing North Korea. The ongoing trial of two American journalists continue to be a sore point for the United States and North Korea as well, where it is likely that this trial is being used as another blackmail bargaining chip by the Communist state .

The corrupt government of Kim Jong Il hopes to stay in power and to avoid calls for reforms by using missile threats to get concessions from the United States and other regional nations such as South Korea, Japan, China and Russia. However, this time around, this group of nations all seem to be heeding the call from the Obama Administration to not reward North Korea's arrogance and missile launch blackmail schemes. Likely Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton might have much to do with this new tough line against North Korea compared to the Bush Administration. Mr. Bush might have been concerned about famine in the nation, leading to the softer stand on the missile tests.

There had been fears that North Korea may launch a longer range missile such as an intercontinental type missile that might be able to fly as far as Hawaii. However, so far today such a launch has not taken place. And further, North Korea longer range missiles have proven themselves to be unsuccessful, unreliable and largely near complete technology failures. However, these missile tests tend to be attractive to nations like Iran who hope to purchase North Korean missiles and work to extend their range or improve their reliability and guidance systems. Missile exports to rogue nations such as Iran present one of the biggest dangers of the North Korean missile program. It is feared that Iran could improve such missiles and develop a functional nuclear warhead at some point. However, both Iran and North Korea seem to be having some difficulties and slow progress towards developing weapons, with North Korean having particular problems developing a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on missile, as well as missile reliability. Iran, on the other hand, seems to be better at developing longer range missiles that are reliable, which makes their nuclear program a great concern for regional security issues.

North Korea's claimed past underground nuclear tests have sent messages to international observers suggesting that their nuclear devices are large in size, but function poorly. One test, even suggested at first that it might have been faked by using a conventional TNT blast.

However, international observers tend to believe that North Korea actually has nuclear weapons technology, however it is way too primitive and large to fit compactly on a missile as of yet.
Yet it is these small steps towards both North Korea and Iran that create fear in the international community. Certainly it would not be good for either North Korea or Iran to be able to have real functioning nuclear weapons. Both nations lack the political judgment to own such dangerous weapons.


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Comments (1)

Doubting Thomas:

"However, international observers tend to believe that North Korea actually has nuclear weapons technology, however it is way too primitive and large to fit compactly on a missile as of yet."

I really recommend you pick up a copy of "The Curve of Binding Energy", by John McPhee, a biography/interview of sorts of Ted Taylor. Admittedly, the man was a genius at designing nuclear weapons - but the princles are such that any half-way competent second-year physics major could probably make one (without killing himself in the process) with a decent machine shop and a supply of fissile material. (Actually, any competent machinist could do it easily, again given a supply of fissile material.)

For that matter, Analog Magazine a couple of decades back had an article on how to make a nuclear bomb in your house. (Two story + basement preferred for a better yield, but you could probably do one in a ranch if you constructed things horizontally...) All you need is two sub-critical masses of uranium, a long tube to serve as a barrel (as I recall, they mentioned 6-inch cast-iron sewer pipe) and a way to whack the two sub-critical masses together realdamnfast. (ANFO would work, for a low yield - C-4 would give somewhat better yield.) It's when you get into plutonium and implosion that things get tricky with timing and the like.

I really recommend it - but you're not going to sleep easy for a while after reading it.

And I'd not diss NK's nuke program so readily - a 5 to 10-kt explosion would be laughable by today's standards - but over downtown Seoul it'd be a friggin' disaster to rival Hiroshima.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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