April 10, 2012 13:51
North Korea is pushing ahead with the launch of what it claims is a space rocket between Thursday and next Monday to mark the centenary of nation founder Kim Il-sung. The Workers Party meets on Wednesday and the Supreme People's Assembly on Friday, accompanied by a massive military parade and other events. Experts predict Kim Jong-un to be appointed the party's general secretary through the meetings, thus completing his rise to power, as his late father Kim Jong-il did. There are also projections that Kim junior will either succeed his father as chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission or become chairman of the party's Central Military Commission and leave the other position vacant in memory of Kim senior.
North Korea brought foreign journalists to the missile launch site in Tongchang-ri, North Pyongyan Province on Sunday and showed them a 32 m three-stage rocket that has been fully assembled. In response, the U.S. and Japan have stepped up measures to intercept the rocket should it stray from its intended course.
Just one month after its last missile launch in April 2009, North Korea conducted its second nuclear test, and there are intelligence reports that the North has dug a new tunnel 1 km deep at its nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province. Chances are increasing that North Korea will conduct its third nuclear test soon.
North Korea is ratcheting up tensions in time in order to consolidate Kim Jong-un's grip on power. Kim Jong-il succeeded his late father as general secretary of the Workers Party over a period of three years and three months. But Kim Jong-un is trying to do the same just four months after the death of his father. This is why the North is in such a rush to push ahead with the missile launch and nuclear test.
The missile launch clearly violates UN Security Council Resolution 1874 and goes against a Feb. 29 agreement with the U.S. where it pledged to halt the development of long-range missiles. It costs North Korea US$850 million to fire one missile, enough to feed 19 million North Koreans for a year. If Pyongyang pushes ahead with the missile launch, the U.S. would have no choice but to scrap 240,000 tons of promised food aid.
The military here plans to evacuate residents of the five West Sea islands if North Korea launches the missile. But the public will head to the polling stations in Wednesday's general elections oblivious of the North Korean missile threat, since none of the candidates from either the ruling or opposition parties has raised concerns over the issue. How irresponsible can these politicians be? South Koreans must be the only people in the world whose politicians have no intention to protect them from any security threat.
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