Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Incident Watch. North Korea Test-Launching Long-Range Missles.

According to the Global Incident Map, the newest threats include all of the following...

Feb. 4, 2009 - IDAHO - Ada County Assessors Office Hazmat Scare A Hoax

Feb. 4, 2009 - COLORADO - 2 Apparent Pipe Bombs Found Behind Medical Clinic

Feb. 4, 2009 - TEXAS - Laredo Police Respond To Several False Bomb Threats

Feb. 4, 2009 - TEXAS - Austin Police Bomb Squad Investigates Suspicious Item

Feb. 4 2009 - TEXAS - I-45 Reopened After Bomb Disposal - 2 Pipe Bombs Found In Culvert

Feb. 4, 2009 - FLORIDA - Miami - Bomb Squad Called To Government Center package

Feb. 5, 2009 - MAINE - School In Poland Evacuated After More Than A Dozen Fall Ill

Feb. 5, 2009 - OHIO - Christian School Evacuated After Bomb Threat

Feb. 6, 2009 - UTAH - Man Arrested For Airport Bomb Joke

Feb. 8, 2009 - WASHINGTON State - Bomb Threat At Hospital In Burien

Feb. 8, 2009 - CALIFORNIA - Possible Bomb Reported In Tuolumne County

Feb. 8, 2009 - MASSACHUSETTS - Police Find Cache Of Weapons And Bomb Materials

Feb. 9, 2009 - WEST VIRGINIA - Bomb Found In Raleigh County Bank

Feb. 9, 2009 - KENTUCKY - Police Detonate Suspicious Package In Shively

Feb. 10, 2009 - OHIO - White Powder Mailed To Local Govt Office

Feb. 10, 2009 - NORTH DAKOTA - Bomb Threat Prompts GF County Office Building Evacuation

Feb. 10, 2009 - GEORGIA - Bomb Threat at Government Building

Feb. 10, 2009 - COLORADO - Suspicious White Powder Found At Federal Building In Fort Collins

Feb. 10, 2009 - NEW MEXICO - Powdery Substance Found At City Hall Mailroom - Ruled Harmless

Feb. 10, 2009 - CALIFORNIA - Ecoterrorists Allegedly Targeted UCLA Van

Feb. 10, 2009 - CALIFORNIA - Bomb Squad Explodes Device In Redwood City

Feb. 11, 2009 - OREGON - Police Evacuate Macys - Bomb Squad Called - 2 Packages

Feb. 10, 2009
By Jon Herskovitz

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea appears to have made further preparations to test its longest-range Taepodong-2 missile as well as short-range missiles.

Here are questions and answers as to why North Korea might test launch one of its missiles:



If the launch is successful, North Korea will have a missile with a maximum estimated range of 6,700 km (4,200 miles), designed to carry a nuclear warhead that could hit U.S. territory, although not the continental 48 states. This would, for the first time, pose a direct security threat by the North to the United States.

The North, which already has hundreds of rudimentary missiles, would be able to test its multi-stage rocket systems and increase its ability to produce long-range missiles.


The only time North Korea has fired the missile was in 2006 when it managed just a few seconds of controlled flight and broke apart in less than a minute.

It has a crude multi-stage design and poor guidance system and takes weeks to prepare for launch. U.S. spy satellites can easily monitor the preparations and it should be relatively easy to destroy long before launch.

Experts have said North Korea does not yet have the technology to miniaturise a nuclear device to use as a warhead. But the North has been working on placing biological and chemical weapons on missiles.


North Korean short-range missiles, thought to number in the hundreds and with ranges of about 100-150 km (60-95 miles), can hit all of the Seoul area and many U.S. military bases in South Korea. They have been successfully tested.

North Korea times its short-range missile launches for periods of increased tension to send political messages. A launch would be intended to grab the attention of new U.S. President Barack Obama and could dominate the agenda of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is making a trip to Asia next week.

The North is also trying to put pressure on South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who took office a year ago and has angered his destitute neighbour by cutting off what once had been a free flow of unconditional aid.


North Korea has several hundred Rodong missiles, with ranges that can hit all of South Korea and most of Japan. A launch of one of these ballistic missiles would violate international provisions and be much more provocative than a short-range test.


Another failed Taepodong-2 launch would be a major embarrassment for Pyongyang which has little beyond its military threat to win concessions from the outside world. That, and the high cost for the impoverished state, may make it reluctant to risk a second launch.

Its leaders may be happy to simply imply a threat by moving around missile-related equipment, knowing it will be seen by U.S. intelligence and raise alarm within the new U.S. government.

On the other hand, the international community has few options left to punish the North for a launch of any of its ballistic missiles. North Korea is already subject to U.N. sanctions stemming from its July 2006 ballistic missile test that included Rodong missiles and the Taepodong-2 and a nuclear test a few months after that.

The United States has already called for a suspension of aid promised under a six-way nuclear deal while Japan and South Korea have blocked channels that sent cash and food.


A short-range missile launch could happen at any time.

The North may time a Taepodong-2 or Rodong launch to coincide with a meeting on March 8 of its Supreme People's Assembly. Its state media has been heralding the event and the role leader Kim Jong-il will play. Kim suffered a suspected stroke in August that raised questions about his grip on power.

It would be difficult for the North to launch a Taepodong-2 by the time of Kim's 67th birthday on February 16. Another possible date is April 25, the anniversary of its Korea People's Army.

(Editing by Alex Richardson)

No comments: