It is show time again, at least that’s what it seems. Because the world is still not totally convinced of the greatness of the Dear Leader and its always happy people, Pyongyang decided to fall back to an already established practice: to demonstrate its might. In addition to the nuclear test the Stalinist state also test-fired a barrage of missiles in the recent days.
Three missiles were fired last Monday, May 25, another two on the following day (Martin writes in his blog about a reversed order, referring to the South Korean Yonhap news agency). The latter included one ground-to-air missile and one ground-to-sea missile with a range of roughly 80 miles. For Pyongyang it was readying the sixth missile for launch at a base near its west coast.
The head of South Korea's National Intelligence Service yesterday told lawmakers in Seoul that North Korea could test-launch an ICBM in the aftermath of its latest nuclear test. This assumption was confirmed when spy satellites have spotted signs that North Korea may be preparing to transport another long-range missile to a test launch site. The Yonhap said the size of the missile was similar to the Taepodong-2 tested in April. The preparations are expected to take two weeks so that Pyongyang could be ready to conduct the launch by mid-June. Because Kim Jong-il has a favor for dramaturgy, Pyongyang might time its next missile test to coincide with U.S. President Barack Obama's scheduled June 16 meeting in Washington with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Another play in the repertory to be performed at the missile theater is the good old “Gesture of defiance if the United Nations imposes sanctions”.
The launch of the missile might also be attributed to strengthen the position of daddy’s new darling: son numero uno, actually he is number three. The youngest son of the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il has been appointed to the country's all-powerful National Defence Commission, a further sign that he is being groomed as his father's successor. Kim Jong Un, 26, already has a new title: Commander Kim. It goes without saying that a real commander must have a real missile. So much for the North Korean mindset.
In midst of this rising tensions, South Korea requested to buy different types of US SM-2 missiles to beef up its anti-air defenses. Seoul is not the only country to respond to the new situation; also Japan considers a more aggressive missile defense policy. Japanese lawmakers could consider first-strike capabilities as a way guarding against attacks from its antagonist, Kyodo News reported:
"If (the North) succeeds in nuclear miniaturization, its (nuclear-tipped) missiles would be able to hit mainland Japan," Nakatani said. "That would pose a grave and realistic threat to the security of our country. Therefore, we have no choice but to consider switching from the existing passive missile defense to an active missile defense where launch targets on enemy ground can be directly attacked."