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North Korea Defies the World and Launches Menacing Rocket

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User ID: 1281405
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04/12/2012 07:05 PM
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North Korea Defies the World and Launches Menacing Rocket
We knew it was coming, and here it is: Pyongyang just pulled the trigger and sent its Unha-3 rocket toward space, to the dismay of everyone who fears a North Korea who can strike the world. Let's follow this firecracker.

The launch was first announced by South Korea's YTN television network.

The Union for Concerned Scientists' David Wright broke the launch scenario down for us in an interview yesterday:

The upper stage of the launcher is designed to carry a lightweight satellite-about 100kg-so it's not clear that structurally it could carry a 1-ton (1000kg) nuclear warhead. But if it could, we estimate this technology could theoretically launch a one-ton warhead to about 10,000-11,000 km ( 6500 miles).

They could certainly launch a 1-ton warhead on the first two stages, and that would have a range of about 7.500 km (5000 miles).

We have not seen North Korea flight test a heat shield for a long-range missile. Because the reentry heating increases with the square of the warhead's speed, the heating would be about 10 times worse for an ICBM than for North Korea's Nodong missile. Heat shield technology is well understood, but you would expect to see a flight test of it if North Korea wanted to have confidence that it could both launch a warhead and get it back to the ground.

And now it's flying through the air.

(LEAD) U.N. to take further action if N. Korea fires rocket: G-8 ministers By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, April 12 (Yonhap) -- The foreign ministers of the world's eight leading nations voiced a unified warning Thursday that North Korea will face "additional action" through the U.N. Security Council if it carries out a ballistic rocket launch.

"We urge the North Korean leadership to honor its agreements and refrain from pursuing a cycle of provocation," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a press conference.

The secretary was summing up the results of her two-day meeting in Washington with her counterparts from Russia, Germany, France, Britain, Japan, Canada and Italy.

North Korea, along with Syria and Iran, was among the major agenda items at the G-8 conference to prepare for next month's summit talks by the members, said Clinton.

She underscored that North's multistage rocket launch, expected within days, is a clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874, which prohibit it from any launch using ballistic missile technology.

The countries talking with North Korea in six-party talks and all the G-8 states agree to be "prepared to take additional steps if the North Koreans go ahead (with the launch)," Clinton said.

The six-party talks, stalled for years, also involve South Korea, China, Russia and Japan.

Clinton said in the current atmosphere the U.S. won't be able to go forward with the promised provision of massive food aid for the North Korean people.

After high-level talks in Beijing in February, the North agreed not to launch any long-range missiles while dialogue with the U.S. is under way.

The North argues that the rocket to be launched sometime between Thursday and Monday will carry an earth observation satellite, thus having nothing to do with the so-called Leap Day Deal.

U.S. officials, however, believe the rocket launch is just a cover for a test of a delivery vehicle for weapons of mass destruction.

Clinton pointed out Pyongyang has a clear choice -- pursuing peace and reaping the benefits of closer ties with the U.S., or continuing to face pressure and isolation.

On a visit to Geneva, meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern about the North's anticipated move.

"If and when the DPRK (North Korea) launches this, what they say is a satellite or missile, I believe member states will bring this matter to the Security Council," he said.

But it is unclear whether the U.S. and its allies will push for the adoption of another resolution for sanctions on the North.

Diplomatic sources said the U.S. may seek a strongly worded chairman's statement instead of wasting time and energy in a tug-of-war with China, the closest ally of the North.

The existing U.N. Security Council resolutions, released after the North's nuclear and missile tests in 2009, already impose wide-ranging sanctions on the impoverished North.

The effectiveness of the sanctions has been questioned as Beijing continues to support Pyongyang economically.
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04/12/2012 07:13 PM
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