Sputnik? Kaputnik.*

North Korea executed its highly anticipated missile launch and with its failure managed to achieve the second worst outcome imaginable.  (The worst would have been hitting China.)  The North Koreans have managed in a single stroke to not only defy the UN Security Council, the United States, and even their patron China, but also demonstrate ineptitude.

Publicized in advance, coming at the time of celebrations for the centenary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the nation’s founding leader and grandfather of newly installed leader Kim Jong-un,  it is hard to imagine a greater humiliation.  The regime even had the nerve to up the ante by inviting a gaggle of foreign press to visit the launch site and missile command and control center. In the hours after the launch, a number were broadcasting from Pyongyang about the fact that their briefers were missing in action and an eerie silence had descended. Some of the scientists and engineers associated with the launch are likely facing death or the gulag as scapegoats for this embarrassment.

It would be easy to gloat, but the missile failure has increased the likelihood of some follow-on provocation.  Before the launch, it was probable that North Korea would conduct a third nuclear test; now it is a virtual certainty.  Having lost face, Kim Jong-un will be under tremendous pressure to double down in an attempt to re-establish international and domestic credibility. Satellite imagery has suggested that preparations for a third nuclear test, possibly based on the country’s yet-untested highly enriched uranium program, were already underway.

The UN Security Council will probably become the locus of international indignation over the next week, although there are already reports that the US may not invest much in the effort. It was unlikely that the US and its allies could get much more out of the UN Security Council beyond another slap on the wrist, in part because its hard to find more that the Chinese will agree to sanction. Nonetheless, as we learned in 2009, UNSC expressions of indignation trigger North Korean expressions of indignation.

Such a sequence–missile test, weak UNSC response, nuclear test–has occurred in both 2006 and 2009 as Steph Haggard observed earlier this week.  With this fiasco, it seems likely that a third nuclear test will move forward sooner rather than later.

The well-crafted White House statement, delivered by Jay Carney, is reproduced in full below.

White House Statement on the Missile Launch

Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch, North Korea’s provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments. While this action is not surprising given North Korea’s pattern of aggressive behavior, any missile activity by North Korea is of concern to the international community. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations, and is fully committed to the security our allies in the region.

The President has been clear that he is prepared to engage constructively with North Korea. However, he has also insisted that North Korea live up to its own commitments, adhere to its international obligations and deal peacefully with its neighbors.

North Korea is only further isolating itself by engaging in provocative acts, and is wasting its money on weapons and propaganda displays while the North Korean people go hungry. North Korea’s long-standing development of missiles and pursuit of nuclear weapons have not brought it security – and never will. North Korea will only show strength and find security by abiding by international law, living up to its obligations, and by working to feed its citizens, to educate its children, and to win the trust of its neighbors.

Perhaps constrained by growing access to information, the regime released a brief statement acknowledging that the satellite had failed to enter orbit; the full statement is translated below.

KCNA Statement on the Missile Launch

Pyongyang, April 13 (KCNA) — The DPRK launched its first application satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province at 07:38:55 a.m. on Friday.

The earth observation satellite failed to enter its preset orbit.

Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure. -0-

* With apologies to Anderson Cooper.

 

17 comments on this post.
  1. Dürftiges Geburtstagsfeuerwerk: Nordkoreas Satellitenstart scheitert « Nordkorea-Info:

    [...] Dürftiges Geburtstagsfeuerwerk: Nordkoreas Satellitenstart scheitert Veröffentlicht am 13. April 2012 von tobid001 Heute Morgen hat Nordkorea den erwarteten Satellitenstart durchgeführt. Allerdings kam die Trägerrakete nicht besonders weit. Nach etwa 90 Sekunden soll sie nach internationalen Angaben auseinandergebrochen und ins Meer gestürzt sein. Das Scheitern des Startversuchs wurde mittlerweile auch von den nordkoreanischen Staatsmedien eingestanden. KCNA brachte die folgende knappe Meldung dazu (NK Tech hat etwas mehr dazu und Marcus Noland gibt seine erste Einschätzung zu den Folgen ab): [...]

  2. David29073:

    Over the years, actually decades now, I have watched as North Korea plays this diplomatic game of: Okay, I’ll negotiate, but let me shoot myself in the foot first! Merry go round.
    The problem is, the world today, is a much more dangerous place then it was during the Cold War.
    In that era, MAD, (Mutually Assured Destruction) kept the two big players in a tie game of chicken, so to speak.
    That is not the case now; we have Muslim religious fanatics using Fatwa’s that give other Muslim religious fanatics the right to use a Nuclear weapon on the west without “committing a sin”.
    The frightening and dangerous problem is: we have rouge states, like Iran and North Korea now developing weapons that can inflict unimaginable death and destruction, and they may soon have the ability to actually use these weapons if they so desire.
    The diplomatic landscape is now full of very dangerous landmines. One misstep, one miscalculation, and the results could be catastrophic.
    North Korea has played this game of brinkmanship, getting as close to a line of provocation as possible, and, at times, stepping over the line (the shelling of the South Korean Island and the sinking of a South Korean war ship) but today’s diplomatic climate is very different than when this new leader’s father was ruling.
    South Korea will no longer tolerate an assault on any of its territory or military bases or equipment. It has singled to the North Koreans that any further attack on any of its facilities will cause an attack back with equal or more devastating results.
    The old guard of North Korea, with its old attitudes, is advising this new young leader in tactics that use to work “back then” but are far more dangerous today.
    North Korea is use to attracting the world’s attention by doing something outrageous. It’s a game of: “Hay world, look at Me”.
    In the current diplomatic climate, this a much more dangerous game to play, for North Korea will cross a line in the sand and the world will react in an aggressive and, most likely military way that the leaders of North Korea did not expect. This miscalculation will have catastrophic effects for the North, and possibly the South.
    My question is: How do we make the North Koreans understand, after all these decades, that running the country they way they do will slowly destroy their population to the point that no one will pay attention, unless it is to wipe the country off the face of the earth?
    After the decades I have lived through, I don’t see that happening any time soon, if at all, as long as the “old guard” still advises this young leader in the “old ways”!
    As the article has pointed out, we all of us, expect the North Koreans to test a Nuclear device in the next few weeks. It is a predictable pattern. What is unpredictable is what will be done about it this time, that is a conundrum still to be figured out.

  3. Sure would hate to be a rocket scientist in NoKo right now | Questions and Observations:

    [...] is hard to imagine a greater humiliation,” a North Korea expert, Marcus Noland, said on his blog at the Web site of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in [...]

  4. I Sure Wouldn’t Want To Be A Rocket Scientist In NoKo Today:

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  6. Failed North Korean Launch a Setback for Kim Jong-un | World News Portal:

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  7. Failed Launch Is Setback for North Korea’s New Leader – New York Times | Washington DC Christian Radio:

    [...] is hard to imagine a greater humiliation,” a North Korea expert, Marcus Noland, said on his blog at the Web site of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in [...]

  8. Failed Launch Is Setback for North Korea’s New Leader – New York Times | Madison Christian Radio:

    [...] is hard to imagine a greater humiliation,” a North Korea expert, Marcus Noland, said on his blog at the Web site of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in [...]

  9. Failed Launch Is Setback for North Korea’s New Leader – New York Times | Long Beach Christian Radio:

    [...] is hard to imagine a greater humiliation,” a North Korea expert, Marcus Noland, said on his blog at the Web site of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in [...]

  10. Rocket Failure Is Setback for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un | VidzNet | Free Proxy Servers & Lists | Health, Movies, Games, Music & Technology News:

    [...] is hard to imagine a greater humiliation,” a North Korea expert, Marcus Noland, said on his blog at the Web site of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in [...]

  11. Failed Launch Is Setback for North Korea’s New Leader – New York Times | Fresno Christian Radio:

    [...] is hard to imagine a greater humiliation,” a North Korea expert, Marcus Noland, said on his blog at the Web site of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in [...]

  12. Failed Launch Is Setback for North Korea’s New Leader – New York Times | Buffalo Christian Radio:

    [...] is hard to imagine a greater humiliation,” a North Korea expert, Marcus Noland, said on his blog at the Web site of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in [...]

  13. Failed Launch Is Setback for North Korea’s New Leader – New York Times | Oklahoma City Christian Radio:

    [...] is hard to imagine a greater humiliation,” a North Korea expert, Marcus Noland, said on his blog at the Web site of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in [...]

  14. Failed Launch Is Setback for North Korea’s New Leader – New York Times | Nashville Christian Radio:

    [...] is hard to imagine a greater humiliation,” a North Korea expert, Marcus Noland, said on his blog at the Web site of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in [...]

  15. Failed North Korean Launch a Setback for Kim Jong-un – NYTimes.com « Ye Olde Soapbox:

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  16. Rocket Failure Is Setback for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un - Online AFGHAN:

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  17. Sure would hate to be a rocket scientist in NoKo right now | FavStocks:

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