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Tag: North Korean missiles

Chosun Ilbo bitching about South Korea falling behind in the space race

You know who’s really upset about the North Korean missile launch?

The Chosun Ilbo, that’s who.

To be sure, they’re upset about the security lapse. But they’re also upset that according to “experts,” the South now lags seven to 10 years behind the North in space launch development. Which really ticks them off, because the South has 39 times the GDP or the North, 19 times the per capita income, and was ranked the world’s fifth most scientifically competitive nation by the IMD.

The problem, they say, is—wait for it, wait for it—the bilateral missile agreement Seoul has with los Estados Unidos. This agreement, says the Chosun, blocks Korea from not only building long-range missiles, but also developing rockets for space exploration. Even with the Naro project, the has inspected the Agency for Defense Development several times to make sure no missile parts have gone into it. Which, IMHO, is a dick move.

At any rate, the Chosun notes there’s no reason South Korea should be behind the North in space technology, that Japan and China have space programs, and Seoul needs to get with the program and present a new national vision and strategy for science and space development.

Marmot’s Note: I’m on record supporting South Korea’s development of not only long-range missiles, but also nice, shiny MIRV warheads to sit on top of those missiles, so sure, I’m down with rockets for “space exploration.” Whether space exploration should be a national priority is another matter. There was a time the Soviets were ahead of the United States in space technology, and look where that got them.

For what it’s worth, Park Geun-hye said during the last debate that the Korean flag would be flying on the moon by 2020. Moon Jae-in thought this was a good idea, too. Korea currently plans to put a landing vehicle on the moon by 2025. When will they put Sam Rockwell on the moon? That’s anyone’s guess.

S. Korean, US experts to look at N. Korean rockets parts

The ROK Navy has recovered a pretty big chunk of the first stage of the North Korean rocket, and Korean warships are looking for even more.

The Defense Ministry will be handing over the parts to the Daejeon-based Agency for Defense Development, the Korean equivalent of DARPA. According to Ye Olde Chosun, American experts will be taking a look at the missile chunks, too. In addition to providing expertise on Soviet and Iranian missile technology, they may also establish missile connections between North Korea, Iran and Syria.

Did America hide N. Korean rocket intel from Seoul?

That’s what the Kyunghyang Shinmun is suggesting, citing a report in Japan’s Sankei Shimbun.

According to the report, the US government limited its provision to South Korea of secret intel, including satellite photos, during the final stages of North Korea’s rocket launch preparations. Washington was reportedly upset about the South Korean government leaking intel on North Korea to the South Korean press, so responded by keeping Seoul in the dark.

Quoting multiple Japanese government officials, the Sankei reported today that Washington withheld satellite intel from Seoul as North Korea entered the final stage of its preparations.

With the United States withholding intel, Seoul could not get a grasp on North Korean preparations after it had first disassembled its rocket, and speculation spread that it would be a while before the North would be able to launch.

On the other hand, the paper reported that the United States continued to supply the Japanese government with satellite photo intel, allowing the Japanese government to respond quickly. The Japanese foreign minister, in fact, alluded to close cooperation with the United States in a press conference held immediately after the launch.

Marmot’s Note: I’m skeptical—considering the source, this might be nothing more than Japanese right-wing trouble-making. I really should be surprised that a good progressive paper like the Kyunghyang isn’t displaying more skepticism, too. But I’m not.

Call it wishful thinking, but I refuse to believe the United States stiffed Seoul on something this important, and I especially refuse to believe the United States would intentionally embarrass the pro-American administration of a major ally right before what everyone predicts to be a close presidential election.

Still, if I might be able to play LMB spin-doctor for a moment, with criticism coming from Moon Jae-in and other progressive sorts that the conservatives have screwed the pouch pooch as far as national security is concerned, this at least gives them an excuse—blame Obama!

(HT to Don Kim)

So, just how scary is that North Korean rocket?

According to the author of a RAND study on North Korean missiles, not very:

The author of the study, Markus Schiller, a missile expert at Schmucker Technologie in Germany, said in an e-mail interview that Wednesday’s launch doesn’t change his conclusions about the North’s missile capabilities or intentions.

“There is no need to reconsider any conclusions or recommendations of the report,” he said. He noted this is the country’s only success of long-range technology from five launches over nearly 15 years and was a “rocket that uses old Russian engines.”

“I would say that a North Korean cargo ship, or an airliner from Koryo Air, is more dangerous,” he added, referring to the North’s state-run airline. “If they wanted an ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile], they have to develop a new rocket, using different technology. This would take a very long time, require a lot of work, and cost a lot of money.”

Anyway, as I said in the comments yesterday, blowing a big chunk of your limited GDP and risking even more international sanctions to do something the Soviets and Americans did a half century ago is precisely the sort of wise decision-making that made North Korea the shining beacon it is today.

BREAKING NEWS: North Korea launches rocket

North Korea went ahead and launched a rocket at around 9:50.

More on this later if I decide between now and lunch that I actually give a rat’s ass.

North Korean Rocket Launch Open Thread

So, North Korea celebrated the NFP’s electroral victory by launching a rocket a few minutes ago.

Initial reports are that it failed.

UPDATE: The South Korean Defense Ministry has officially announced that the North Korean rocket flew for about a minute or two after launch and then exploded in the air. And even North Korea is admitting it failed.

And no, it never violated South Korean territory.

Oh, and the ROKN Sejong the Great was the first ship to detect the launch. So congrats.

The Saenuri Party has condemned the launch, for what it’s worth.

UPDATE 2: The South Korean government estimates that North Korea spent about US$850 million on the launch.

Or enough to feed 19 million North Koreans for a year.

This is peanuts, actually, compared to the amount of money they’re sinking into the upcoming celebrations to mark Kim Il-sung’s birthday, which should come out to about US$2 billion, or roughly one-third of North Korea’s annual budget of US$5.7 billion.

This, children, is why we should never, ever send food to North Korea.

Japan orders NK rocket intercepted. S. Korea wants to shoot it down, too, but can it?

The Japanese defense minister has ordered his nation’s forces to shoot down a North Korean rocket if—and this is the big if—it threatens Japanese territory:

Japan’s defence minister said Friday he had issued an order to shoot down a North Korean rocket if it threatens the nation’s territory, a planned launch that has raised global alarm bells.
[…]
“I issued a destroy order,” Defence Minister Naoki Tanaka told reporters in Tokyo, saying he had received the green light to shoot it down.

What is more interesting is a story by the Dong-A Ilbo’s military affairs guy that while both Japan and South Korea have declared they would intercept the rocket if it were to threaten their territory, the latter would have a very difficult time doing so.

Japan’s Aegis warships carry the RIM-161 Standard Missile 3, or the SM-3, which the US Navy used to take out an old US spy satellite just before reentry in 2008.

Korea’s Aegis ships, however, carry just the SM-2, which is great for taking out aircraft and cruise missiles, but insufficient for taking out ballistic missiles or missile fragments flying several times the speed of sound due to its lack of speed and range.

As the Dong-A notes, Korea’s Aegis warships have better “eyes” (a.k.a. radar) than their American and Japanese counterparts, but because they don’t have the “fist” (a.k.a. missiles) to hit ballistic missiles, they must rely on other countries’ ships. For example, during a Korea-US ballistic missile interception exercise in the waters off Hawaii in 2010, Korea’s Sejong the Great tracked the missile and provided the information, but the actual interception was done with an SM-3 fired from an US Navy Aegis ship.

The same goes for Korea’s ground-based PAC-2 missiles and Japan’s spiffy new PAC-3s. The PAC-3s are just much better at taking out balistic missiles. And this, the Dong-A Ilbo notes, makes Korea’s stated plan to shoot down the missile ring hollow.

The Japanese, on the other hand, are expressing confidence in their missile defense and using the North Korean rocket launch as an opportunity to upgrade their alliance with the United States. For example, Japan has just set up a joint operations coordination center at Yokota to coordinate activities between the US Fifth Air Force and Japan’s ASDF. According to the Dong-A, this place—with about 800 personnel from both the USAF and ASDF—is a joint US-Japan MD command center.

The Dong-A concluded by saying North Korea’s rocket provocation appeared to be resulting in the acceleration of US-Japan military coordination and the expansions of the Japanese SDF’s role in the Asia-Pacific region. Now was the time to consider carefully the implication this would have on the security of the Korean Peninsula.

The Chosun Ilbo, meanwhile, reported the same concerns, and added that Korea is talking with the United States in hopes of getting support from the US 7th Fleet and/or USFK’s own PAC-3s at Osan, Gunsan and Waegwan.

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