02 June 2009

DPRK and Long Range Missiles: Here We Go Again

1_28_nk450Looks like the missiles of spring are coming back for return engagement this summer:

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea may this month test a missile designed to fly as far as U.S. territory and may also be gearing up for skirmishes with the South around their disputed sea border, South Korean media reported on Monday.


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea has shifted its most advanced long-range missile — capable of reaching Alaska — to a new west coast launch site near the border with China, reports said Monday, in a move that threatens to further escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The regime could fire the long-range missile as early as mid-June — around the time South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and President Barack Obama hold a summit in Washington, the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper in Seoul said, citing unidentified officials in Washington and Seoul.

The missile at the Dongchang-ni launch site on the northwest coast is believed to be a version of the Taepodong-2 rocket that the North fired on April 5 saying it was a satellite launch, the report said. The JoongAng Ilbo newspaper carried a similar report. A new long-range missile launch would mark a significant escalation in tensions already running high after the North's April rocket launch and an underground nuclear test conducted a week ago. The U.N. Security Council has been discussing how to punish Pyongyang for the atomic blast.

Well, say this about nK - they do stick to the script:

"In case the UNSC does not make an immediate apology, such actions will be taken as:

"Firstly, the DPRK will be compelled to take additional self-defensive measures in order to defend its supreme interests.

"The measures will include nuclear tests and test-firings of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

"Secondly, the DPRK will make a decision to build a light water reactor power plant and start the technological development for ensuring self-production of nuclear fuel as its first process without delay."

slide1The new wrinkle in this iteration is the apparent use of a new west coast launch facility - adds al sorts of new factors in indications and warning and defense compared to the facility at T'aepo dong. Also raises questions about nK's turnaround/lessons-learned from the previous launch of a new TD-2 variant in April this year. Starts to possibly speak volumes about the nK's assessing the failure of April's launch and incorporating lessons learned form that event. By comparison is the almost three year period and new airframe from the 2006 TD-2 launch failure to April 2009 launch attempt.

It won't be a boring summer 'round these parts...that's for sure.