Thursday, August 20, 2009

more on ROK'S launch

Just a brief follow-up: South Korea suspended Wednesday the launch of its first space rocket with just less than eight minutes remaining in the countdown due to a technical glitch. A new launch date will be announced after consultations with experts from Russia, who made the first stage of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), also called the Naro-1.

For some background information on Seoul’s space program and bragging see the Yonhap article on the “culmination of 20 years of research and development that started with small, rudimentary solid-fuel machines”.

The Washington Post also has two articles related to my latest entry. The first addresses the question of double standards:

South Korea on Wednesday plans to launch a satellite into space using technology capable, in theory, of eventually delivering nuclear warheads or other weapons of mass destruction.

A successful launch from an island off South Korea's southwestern coast will add that country to an elite club of nine nations that have demonstrated the capability to orbit a satellite and -- if they choose -- to conduct long-range missile strikes against an enemy. But it will probably not attract the same kind of international criticism heaped on North Korea when it recently attempted a similar launch.

ROK’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Moon Tae-young already stated that any comparison between the two missile launches is ‘inappropriate.’ An unnamed U.S.-official put it bluntly: The question is, ‘are they allies or friends, or people who have generally been belligerent?’ A great U.S. philosopher former U.S. president phrased it slightly different: ‘Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.’ Henry Sokolski already aptly raised the question: ‘If we wink at this nuclear-capable rocket launch . . . how in the world can we object to North Korean and Iranian tests without looking like hypocrites?’

Japan seems to have fewer concerns. While having pressed the U.N. Security Council to censure North Korea, it expressed its hope that the South Korean test will be successful.

South Korea is said to have spend an estimated US$200 million to obtain technological assistance of Russia after the U.S. government spurned South Korea's appeals for assistance. Russia is supplying the first stage of the rocket about to be launched.

The second WP article describes DPRK’s softer tone of the recent days. The core statement is:
The reasons behind North Korea's apparent softening in strategy are known only to Kim and his inner circle. But analysts in South Korea have speculated that much of North Korea's saber rattling this year was for internal consumption, as Kim began to prepare the country for a succession process that may hand power to his third son, Kim Jong Un, who is just 26.

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