As predicted, at around 2230 hours [EDT] on Saturday, DPRK launched its Taepodong 2 ICBM that had been poised on a pad for two weeks. Despite Kim Jung-Il’s triumphant announcement of a satellite being placed in orbit, playing patriotic music, NORAD tracked the 2nd and 3rd stages – unseparated – as they splashed in the Pacific, ~2,000 miles down-range. There is team of Iranian technicians on-site to monitor the launch (and presumably purchase the technology – had it been successful).
Remember the “serious consequences” if Pyongyang launched? Well, the silk suits got together in an “emergency” session at Turtle Bay and began bickering over the language.
That’ll show ‘em!
“It’s not our fault!” cry the free Members of the Security Council, “China and Russia won’t cooperate.” We knew that going in, making all the posturing before-hand just so much empty rhetoric. DPRK knew that going in, making the launch inevitable. The silver lining, of course, is that Pyongyang still can’t operate a 3-stage missile; the dark cloud is that they are getting closer, and have customers lined up. The even darker cloud is that someone in Washington thought that the UN was even on the list of “serious consequences”. Consider: DPRK is in possession of as many as six UN-prohibited nuclear explosive devices, which they are weaponizing to mate to UN-prohibited ICBMs, one of which they fired in a UN-prohibited test. Somehow, I don’t think yet another UN resolution would matter much to Mr Kim and his minions (or anybody else, for that matter).
Baseless threats and empty blustering show weakness, not resolve, “international” or otherwise.
Russia we can discount. They are not going to cooperate with the West because they want to regain World Power status, and sees the quickest way to do that as at the expense of the United States. Beijing is touchy about destabilizing Pyongyang, causing a tsunami of refugees into PRC and chaos on the Korean Peninsula. DPRK gets 80% of its energy and most of its imported food stuffs from PRC. Beijing is the only power on Earth that can non-kinetically make Pyongyang do anything.
We need to convince Beijing that our real-world options are two: shoot the next one down or freeze their offshore bank accounts next time they stand an ICBM up on the pad. If the Chinese believe that the Obama administration would actually do either, I think they would welcome it. If they could convince Kim that it was America (and not PRC) that would punish DPRK if they do it again, they could leverage that pressure into influence over events without toppling the regime. I don’t think Beijing wants Pyongyang with a deliverable nuclear weapon, but hesitates to threaten Kim, afraid that it will throw DPRK into chaos.
This would be a constructive opportunity for Obama to “work with others” without selling us out or making us look weak.
If he’s interested.