Skip to comments.Cloudy sky casts shroud around North Korea missile plan
Posted on 06/20/2006 12:21:56 AM PDT by familyop
SEOUL (Reuters) - Clouds and storms closed in on Tuesday over a site where North Korea may be preparing to test a long-range missile, potentially delaying a flight that regional powers have warned the reclusive state not to launch.
A commercial satellite photo of North Korea's Nodong
missile launch site taken on by a Digital Globe
satellite and annotated and released by analysts
at GlobalSecurity.org on May 24, 2006. The United
States and Japan warned North Korea on Monday
against a missile launch that experts say could
reach as far as Alaska and threatened harsh action
if the test flight goes ahead. REUTERS/Digital
Globe via GlobalSecurity.org
U.S. officials say evidence such as satellite pictures suggests that Pyongyang may have finished fuelling a Taepodong-2 missile, which some experts said could reach as far as Alaska.
Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington have said a launch would present a grave threat to regional security, while the United States and Japan have promised harsh action if the test flight goes ahead.
South Korea's weather agency forecast overcast skies and storms on Tuesday in North Hamgyong province, where North Korea has a launch site, and said this should be the pattern for the rest of the week as a storm front moves through.
Analysts say clouds and storms would make it difficult for North Korea to track a missile once in flight, decreasing the likelihood of a launch.
"You don't want to test-launch a missile into a storm," said Peter Beck, a Korea analyst in Seoul for the International Crisis Group.
Reports of test preparations coincide with a stalemate in six-party talks on unwinding Pyongyang's nuclear arms programs.
Some analysts believe that North Korea is piqued that world attention has shifted to concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions and angered at a U.S. crackdown that has frozen hard currency income from alleged illegal activities such as money laundering.
PLAYING A FINESSE GAME?
Beck said that by raising the prospect of a missile test, the Stalinist state had successfully grabbed global attention and rattled security concerns, but he was not sure if Pyongyang would scrap the launch in the face of pressure or go ahead.
"If they are really playing a finesse game they will back away but ... they are not known for their finesse game," he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Washington on Monday a test-launch would be viewed as a very serious matter and a "provocative act" that would further isolate Pyongyang.
In Seoul, a spokesman for the ruling Uri Party said the government had urged its neighbor not to launch a missile.
"The government reports it had explained to the North the grave consequences that will result from a missile test launch and strongly demanded the withdrawal of the plan," Woo Sang-ho said after a meeting between lawmakers and government officials.
Another lawmaker who was present at Tuesday's meeting said much of the data presented was provided by U.S. intelligence.
"All they (government officials) can say is that it is possible a test flight may be imminent," said the lawmaker, who asked not to be named.
Despite the tension, South and North Korea went ahead on Tuesday with working-level talks on construction at a factory complex in the North which is run by an affiliate of South Korea's Hyundai group.
In an official media report on Tuesday, North Korea called on Washington not to develop space-based weapons, saying it had a "deep-rooted scheme to gratify its ambition of world supremacy", but it did no mention its own missile or satellite ambitions.
North Korea shocked the world in 1998 when it fired a missile, part of which flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean. Pyongyang trumpeted that as a satellite launch.
Since 1999, it has adhered to a moratorium on ballistic missile launches, though it has launched short-range missiles.
(Additional reporting by Jack Kim and Lee Jin-joo in Seoul)
is that haarp?
Its never too cloudy for a Tomahawk cruise missile.
wouldn't a few bursts of 50 cal fire pretty much turn this whole thing into charcoal?
or to quote Steve Urkel.....
"whoops, did I do that?"
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.