The 8 things you should know about the North Korea Missile Launch - Video

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Everyone’s talking about North Korea’s missile launch this week. And sure, it’s a big deal, but it’s not the end of the world. Here’s some quick behind-the-news perspectives to help parse facts from fear-mongering.

Yes. The launch is a problem. Aside from violating U.N. resolutions against North Korean missile launches and reneging on a February 2012 agreement with the U.S. not to test missiles, North Korea appears determined to develop a nuclear weapons capability and a long-range delivery system to go with it. If this were to happen, North Korea would have the capability to threaten the U.S. Moreover, North Korea has shown its willingness to sell its missile technology to the highest bidder and to transfer its nuclear weapons know-how, which could at some point end up in the hands of terrorists. We cannot afford to let the North continue this activity unchecked.

But it likely won’t succeed. It is unlikely that the North will be successful in putting a satellite into orbit. This is its fourth attempt to do so, and each one before has failed. That being said, each test has shown that North Korean scientists are learning more.

We won’t know if it’s a satellite launch or a missile test till it’s over. North Korea has claimed that this test is not a violation of international law because it is a part of its space program. Since the technology is almost identical to the skills needed for a missile launch, the point is moot. However, we will know from the trajectory of the launch if the rocket is intended to be a long-range missile or a satellite. Even if the rocket is a satellite, there is no question that the North will learn a great deal from this launch and apply it to a long-range missile program.

This article was originally published on SFGate.com City Brights. Click to finish reading

Comments

response

Hi Kim,

Thanks much for your email. It is great to hear from you. I have gotten a number of comments regarding the Fox interview.

To answer your question -- if given enough time, I believe the North Koreans have the ability to figure out the missile technology needed to put a satellite in orbit and to deliver a weapon. However, it will take a long time. The North Korean's conducted 4 missile tests over the past 14 years, each of them has failed -- the last one even more miserably than the previous test. There is also the fact that, for a weapon, mastering the three tasks of getting a payload into space, then into a sub-orbit, and then a viable re-entry are not easy. Finally, there is the significant task of making a nuclear device small enough to mount on the ICBM, termed "miniaturization." In light of the fact that North Korea is in a state of constant material shortages, I believe we have enough time before any long range missile becomes operational, and "marketable."

More pressing than the North Korean long-range missile program is North Korea's nuclear weapons activity. My main concern is that North Korea will decide to do another nuclear test, which for a variety of reasons would not be good -- among them being a nuclear test would help North Korea with its quest to miniaturize a nuclear device.

I hope this is helpful. My apologies for not responding sooner. If I can answer other questions, please let me know.

Warmly, Philip

Hi Phil

Hi Phil,

I heard you on Fox News today, and was I surprised! But I always knew you were a smart guy! Well, this is very interesting about North Korea. But I just learned the US had nine failed nuclear tests, and after 24 tries we got it right. Heck, I don't known anything about this subject, but why do you think North Korea won't get it done?

Anyway, it was fun hearing you in the interview, and I hope you are well.

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