Tuesday, July 04, 2006

North Korea Tests at Least Two Missiles

CNN is reporting that North Korea launched two short-range missiles today and the long-range Taepodong 2 but reports seem to vary. There's no question North Korea is trying to be provocative; one also suspects they knew what day we're celebrating over here. CNN, of course, is going 'ballistic' with graphics and overkill that have little to do with reality (loops of North Korean troops on the march is a bit much along with an almost red alert style of graphics). Here's a story from Reuters Canada:
A long-range North Korean missile, apparently a Taepodong 2, failed 40 seconds after it was launched, a State Department official told Reuters on Tuesday.

"We believe it was the Taepodong 2," said the official, who asked not to be named. A senior Defense Department official said North Korea had launched at least three missiles, at least two of them short-range Scud-type missiles.

At the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said in a statement he was "urgently consulting" with other members of the 15-nation Security Council on the matter. U.S. officials said it was too early to decide whether to call a meeting.

A White House spokeswoman said staff were urgently consulting on North Korea's move but had no comment at this time. "We have absolutely nothing at this point," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

It's still very early in the story. Is it serious? Absolutely. Is it a crisis? We don't know yet. Will it lead to another round of media hysteria, particularly from the right? Of course. Something to keep in mind is that if North Korea launched a nuclear strike against South Korea, Japan or the U.S., it would cease to exist within hours. The North Koreans know that.

One thing is for certain in all of this. We need to return the A-team to Washington, whether that team is Republican, Democrat or bi-partisan. The Republicans have temporarily self-destructed but could easily take advantage of the North Korean situation for political purposes even though they have no particularly good ideas for dealing with the situation (and no credibility which makes situations like this more difficult to handle). On the other hand, it's possible that the North Koreans are nervous because Iran seems to have been put on the back burner as far as a military strike is concerned. In their minds, that may beg the question of where that places them. More than likely, we're seeing high stakes grandstanding from Kim Jong II.

Already, I'm hearing some spinning from Washington but not that many facts are in yet. This is exactly the moment when the analysts should be given some breathing room. Right now, the missiles are sitting uselessly at the bottom of the Sea of Japan, not on their launching pads. We'll know much more in the next day or two.

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