The U.S. has overreacted to the failed launch of North Korea’s rocket Unha-3 (Milkey Way-3) on April 15.
In fact, a case can be made that the Obama administration was aware of Kim Jong-il’s intention of sending a satellite into orbit, which would broadcast “The Song of Marshall Kim Il Sung” and “Happy Birthday,” during the long-planned, massive 100th birthday celebration of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) founder on or around April 15.
During a February 23 National Public Radio early morning interview with Mike Shuster, Evans Revere—former senior State Department diplomat, ex-president of the New York-based Korea Society and senior director of Madeleine Albright’s think-tank—gave the game away: during on-again, off-again negotiations with the US since July 2011, the North Koreans told the US of its intentions of sending a satellite into space.
This was almost a week before DPRK agreed to a February 29 document to freeze its nuclear program at Yongbyon facility and invite back International Atomic Energy Agency monitors; in return, the U.S. would furnish 240 metric tons of fortified powdered milk and high-energy chocolate bars. The accord remained silent on satellites, as New York Times veteran reporter David Sanger remarked.
Pyongyang’s public announcement of a satellite launch on March 8 brought a sharp rebuke from the Obama administration. It felt that the Kim Jung-eun regime had acted in bad faith. As a result, the U.S. suspended the promised food.
Characterizing the satellite as a veiled test of a military weapon, the Obama administration orchestrated a worldwide protest to pressure Jung-eun from going through with the test.
However, America’s public-relations campaign failed to dissuade Jung-eun from changing the framework of his grandfather’s birthday festivities.
Yet, North Korea did two things: it did not rescind its commitment to suspend its nuclear program and it invited the international press to inspect the launch site at Tongchang-ri.
Judging by its penchant for secrecy, were the DPRK’s plan to conduct a military, long-range missile launch, would they have gone through this trouble and fanfare?
Here, let us point out an obvious scientific fact about satellite launches: they have to be lifted into space on long-range rockets. To claim as the U.S. does that long-range rockets have an exclusively military objective is disingenuous.
The U.S. seized U.N. Security to condemn North Korea on the basis of two previous resolutions forbidding satellite launches. North Korea rejected these U.N. instruments, exercising its right as a full U.N. member to consider them as interference to its internal affairs.
Reading recent LanSat photos, analysts in South Korea and Washington now warn of an impending nuclear test on North Korea’s east coast.
No one can really say for sure if that will happen.
The failed satellite launch did not deter Jung-eun from making his maiden speech on April 15—Kim Il Sung’s 100 birthday—during a massive military parade, that included a replica of the failed Unha-3 rocket.
The young Korean leader’s 20-minute discourse was instructive: not only did he extol the virtues of his grandfather, but strongly stressed North Korea’s genuine revolutionary tradition—one that has steadfastly resisted Japanese and US occupation. (The U.S. is technically at war with the DPRK since 1950.)
Today, as a nuclear power, he noted with emphasis, North Korea has broken the “imperialists (U.S.) monopoly” on technology. In consequent, North Korea can and will defend its independence until the end.
The U.S. has little wiggle room to punish North Korea. For years now, it has corseted DPRK in a close-fitting garment of sanctions, with little success. In fact, North Korea expert Leon Sigal’s prophetic words cast a shadow on America’s tack towards North Korea: “Whenever the US fails to keep its side of a bargain, North Korea retaliates.”
Let the Asia Foundation representative in Seoul, Peter Beck, have the final word: “After various governments finish beating their chests (protesting the Unha-3 launch), we have to find a way to talk to North Korea.”
Short of resorting to armed conflict, outstanding issues between the U.S. and DPRK going back 60-odd years can only be solved through direct negotiation.