Monday, April 27, 2009

So why all the uproar over North Korea missile test?

Scott Ritter, the well-known U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq in the 90's, asks of North Korea, “So why all the uproar over their missile test?” In a new book, he explains:

On Jan. 23, a 173-foot-tall, two-stage rocket capable of carrying a giant 33,000-pound payload lifted off from Northeast Asia . However, very few people around the world took notice of this launch. The United Nations Security Council did not meet in an emergency session to denounce the launch, nor did it craft a package of punitive economic sanctions in response.

The reason? The H-2A rocket in question, the, was launched by Japan . In fact, according to Ritter, four such launches have been in support of exclusively military missions, delivering spy satellites into orbit over North Korea .

In contrast, on April 5, North Korea launched a three-stage rocket which it claimed was carrying a single small communications satellite weighing a few hundred pounds. The launch was condemned even before it occurred as “dangerous” and “provocative,” unlike Japan ’s similar efforts.

Both Russia and China then questioned whether the launch was in fact a violation of Resolution 1718, noting that North Korea had every right to launch satellites. In Ritter’s opinion, it’s the United Nations Security Council, and not North Korea , that is acting in a manner inconsistent with international law.

A major problem confronting President Obama and others who fear that North Korean (and Iranian) launches are merely a cover for military ballistic missile programs is that, unlike the nuclear field, there is no corresponding treaty vehicle concerning ballistic missiles.

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