Monday, June 19, 2006

Worried Eyes Turn To Korea

Today, senior US officials have urged North Korea to abandon any "provocative" plan to test-launch a long-range missile.

As reported by the BBC, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said any launch would be viewed by the US as a "a very serious matter, and indeed a provocative act should North Korea decide to launch that missile,” saying further, "We will obviously consult [with allies] on next steps, but I can assure everyone that it will be taken with utmost seriousness." She stressed that North Korea had repeatedly agreed not to test-launch any new missiles, both independently and in the context of six-nation talks on its nuclear program.

This of course brings to the forefront regional concerns with Japan, Australia and New Zealand giving warnings and South Korea urged the north not to put a "friend in danger".
This recent move is most interesting considering North Korea has observed a self-imposed moratorium on missile launches since 1999, but is reported to have fuelled a new model capable of reaching Alaska. That model, the Taepodong-2 is believed to have a range of up to 6,000km (3,700 miles). Though serious, North Korea actions should be seen as nothing more than an attempt to break the deadlock over their nuclear program. For several years, it was North Korean scientists and North Korea’s leader that was in the news. Sharing the spotlight with Iran on the same issue is something that North Korea does not like and is trying to get some attention, again.

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