Friday, June 16, 2006

North Korea missile test may be imminent

In a recent Reuters article,US government officials expressed their concerns Thursday of an imminent North Korean missile test. There seems to be military and diplomatic factors behind the possible test. As stated in the article, Pyongyang is dissatisfied with the shift of the international attention towards Iran. A test of the Taepodong-2, a long range missile which experts believe can reach portions of the United States; will certainly put North Korea back on the international spot light. On the military front, Taepodong-2 remains untested; therefore it is in the military interest of the DPRK to test out the multiple stage missile.
How will the missile test affect the six party talks? It may negatively affect the six party talks, but the talks as it stands today is in a stale mate, therefore I don't foresee a significant impact on the six party talks. According to an AP article, democratic senators Hillary Clinton, and Carl Levin sent a letter to the White House requesting the Bush administration to change its ineffective current policy on North Korea. In light of the US accusations of an imminent missile test, North Korea is publicly accusing the US of intruding its sovereign airspace. North Korea reports an increased activity of a US spy plane off of its north eastern waters. North Korea is threatening to "punish" the US spy plane. If North Korea does decide to attack a US plane or ship, it will not be unprecedented. As discussed in class, the 1968 Pueblo incident is widely celebrated in North Korea, and the captured spy ship is showcased as a trophy in its victory against US aggression.
The recent escalation of tension in East Asia puts a dent to those hoping for a peaceful resolution to the nuclear weapons issue in North Korea. The Bush administration needs to recognize the failure of the six party talks and needs to redraft its policy. I feel as though we are taking backwards step in international relations with North Korea, and I believe it is largely due to poor leadership and policy by the United States. If North Korea does indeed go ahead with the missile tests, I feel North Korea will achieve its objective of attracting international attention, and validating its military capabilities assuming the test is successful. The US will be sidelined as a spectator unless more proactive steps are taken to diplomatically engage with North Korea

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