September 06, 1998 19:06
The international community has been thrown into confusion following North
Korea's claim that all assumed was its testing firing of a Taepodong-1 was, in
fact, the launch of a satellite. Japan has responded with the most scepticism,
saying that considering North Korea's current situation, it is impossible that
they would have the resources to build and launch a satellite. The problem is
that the Japanese government is having difficulty confirming its suspicions since
civilians are holding on to the hope that it was, in fact, a satellite that was
The situation in South Korea is similar. The government has tried to confirm
whether it was a missile or a satellite, but the National Security Council has
been unable to establish beyond a doubt the nature of last week's launch and
has had to rely on information from other countries in its investigations.
The official position of the US is that it is a missile, however, even with one of
the world's most sophisticated intelligence gathering systems, not even they can
absolutely support their claim. It is incredible that one of their many spy
satellites located in the Pacific region have failed to provide any evidence.
Russian intelligence organizations claim that they have confirmed that the North
Korean's have succeeded in launching a commercial satellite, further
embarrassing other nations which have been unable to confirm anything.
If it is true that it is a satellite, it will mean that the North has built up the
technology to build longer range missiles without the knowledge of western
intelligence-gathering agencies, including the US.
Western intelligence agencies have also been mistaken in their predictions that
Kim Jong-il would be elected the president and Yun Hyung-mook the prime
minister at the first Supreme Peoples' Assembly in the four year's following
Kim Il-sung's death. The North Koreans have created a strange system in which
there is no de facto president, instead, giving the leadership of the nation to Kim
Jong-il as the head of the nation's defense committee. Nobody predicted that this
post would also be given responsibility for the nation's political, economic and
The North Koreans are unpredictable. Even with the most high-tech equipment,
it is proving to be difficult to find out the truth about what is happening in that
isolated nation. In this climate, the government must be careful not to set
policies which are based on assumptions, rather than facts.
(September 7, 1998)
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