The missile controversy

By Sunita Paul
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By Sunita Paul

4/5/2009 9:58:53 PM -

DPRK (North Korea) has launched 'Kwangmyongsong-2’ satellite on April 5, 2009 defying reaction from a number of Western as well as global nations, while with support from Russia and similar allies of authorities in Pyongyang. While Pyongyang is claiming to have launched own satellite in the orbit successfully, anti-North Korean blocks are continuing to claim that, Pyongyang launched missile, not satellite.

DPRK 's Central News Agency has been reporting that it successfully launched a satellite into orbit containing "necessary measuring and communications facilities" that have been broadcasting songs praising its leader Kim Jong Il.

It said, The 'Kwangmyongsong-2' satellite was sent into the orbit at 11.29.02 a.m. local time, by an 'Unha-2' rocket fired from the East Sea Launch Ground, located on the east coast of North Korea, the report said.

The satellite entered the orbit with "perigee 490 km, apogee 1426 km, dip 40.6 degree", the report said, adding that its revolution period was 104 minutes and 12 seconds.

Terming the launching as missile test, some analysts are saying, now the North Koreans know - and have demonstrated to the world - that they can produce a successful, long-range, weapons-bearing missile, which could strike the US, or Australia for that matter, with a nuclear payload.

While the missile controversy is just in offing, Pyongyang has accused South Korea on Sunday of poisoning their football players, who lost a World Cup qualifier in Seoul last week. The statement came from North Korean Football Association (NKFA).

NKFA said the food poisoning was a product of a deliberate act perpetrated by adulterated foodstuff and also blasted the Omani chief referee for disallowing a goal by the North Koreans.

"The match ... turned into a theatre of plot-breeding and swindling," the statement said.

Singapore, in a statement on April 5, commenting on DPRK’s satellite launching urged all parties involved in the DPRK rocket launch dispute to exercise restraint and reduce tensions through dialogue.

"We hope all parties involved will exercise restraint and reduce tensions through dialogue and the Six Party Talks," the Singapore Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

China urged the international community on Sunday not to overreact to DPRK 's launch of a long-range rocket, which prompted condemnation from many powers and triggered an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi called his counterparts in the United States, Russia, Japan and South Korea to discuss the launch, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"All sides ought to look at the big picture ... (and) avoid taking actions which may exacerbate the situation further," Yang was paraphrased as saying.

China "upholds using talks to resolve this issue," he added.

"We hope related parties stay calm and exercise restraint, appropriately deal with it and together maintain peace and stability in this region," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu added in a separate statement that referred to the rocket as an "experimental communications satellite."

China, the closest DPRK has to a major ally and economic partner, kept above the diplomatic fray in the weeks leading to the launch of the rocket.

China also calculates that its display of detachment will minimize damage to stalled negotiations seeking to persuade North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons, and help preserve China's stake in North Korea's survival, Chinese analysts said last week.

Russia is urging restraint from all countries in responding to North Korea's rocket launch.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko says Pyongyang had informed Moscow ahead of time about the launch, and Russian radars tracked it.

Russia is a member of the six-country talks that have been trying to get North Korea to give up its nuclear programs.

Russia shares a border with North Korea and was a stalwart supporter of the Communist nation during the Cold War.

Nesterenko says in a statement issued hours after the launch Sunday that Russia urges "all states concerned to show restraint in judgments and action."

Following is a chronology of major events concerning the DPRK's satellite and missile launches:

May 1993: The DPRK test-fires a medium-range Rodong ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.

August 1998: The DPRK launched the first man-made satellite Kwangmyongsong-1, which it said was a successful launching. But the United States and South Korea said what the DPRK had fired was an intermediate-range Taepodong-1 ballistic missile, part of which flied over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean.

July 2006: The DPRK launched several ballistic missiles, including an advanced long-range Taepodong-2 missile. But the launch of Taopodong-2 was an apparent failure, and the missile landed in the Sea of Japan.

DPRK said it launched the rocket to send a communication satellite into orbit but many western countries including the European Union, the United States and its neighbors South Korea and Japan claimed Pyongyang was testing its ballistic missile.

Giving reaction at the launch, US President Barack Obama said that North Korea violated international rules when it tested a rocket that could be used for long range missiles, and called on the Security Council to take action.

“This provocation underscores the need for action—not just this afternoon at the U.N. Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons,” Obama said. “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.”

President Obama’s comments on North Korea were delivered at the end of a historic speech before more than 20,000 people here that had been planned far in advance to lay out Obama’s plans to stop the spread of nuclear arms.

The U.S. president also said that he still plans to continue with plans to pursue missile defense, but tied the need for such a system to any Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons. Russia opposes locating a defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, as current plans call for, and Mr. Obama said in a letter to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev two months ago that if Russia is able to successfully help the United States stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, there will be no need for a missile defense shield in placed in Eastern Europe.

The issue has particular resonance here in Prague, since the now-collapsed government of Prime Minister Marek Topolanek went to bat against popular opinion here to support the missile shield, only to have the Obama administration begin to walk back from the plan. Mr. Topolanek last week got back at President Obama when he called Obama’s economic stimulus proposals “a way to hell.”

Barack Obama came to Prague anyway, although his speech stuck largely to arms control and proliferation, without veering too far into economics.

“Let me be clear: Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran’s neighbors and our allies,” he said. “The Czech Republic and Poland have been courageous in agreeing to host a defense against these missiles. As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defense system that is cost effective and proven.”

That North Korea fired a rocket over Japan and into the Pacific just hours before President Obama’s speech lent his message an added urgency, He said, although White House officials disputed any suggestion that the secretive government in the North timed its rocket launch to coincide with the U.S. President’s speech.

“I hate to speculate about North Korean motivations,” said Gary Samore, the White House coordinator for nonproliferation, adding that the North Koreans had announced their launch window two weeks ago, and that weather conditions favored today. “I’m not sure this is a deliberate calculated action on the part of the North Koreans.”

In any case, the North Korean action illustrated again that the international community has mostly had its hands tied when it comes to stopping North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. The Security Council may slap Pyongyang on the wrist, as it has before, but China, a permanent member, has often stood in the way of strong international action.

Nonetheless, President Obama said he will push for strong Security Council action. “Now is the time for a strong international response, and North Korea must know that the path to security and respect will never come through threats and illegal weapons.”

But it remained unclear exactly what the West will be able to do by way of the talked about punishment. President Bush pressed for similar sanctions after the North’s nuclear test in October 2006, but those sanctions had little long-term effect. Although some Czech officials had even quietly discouraged Mr. Obama’s speech, worried that it would intensify the Czech public’s fears of being caught between the United States and Russia. But the crowd of Czechs here mostly seemed transfixed.

Not all were effusive about President Obama’s appearance. Miloslava Krulova, 76, who worked in a bank before she retired, said she was worried that Obama’s disarmament drive could prove detrimental to global peace.

“I came here today because I admire Obama’s intelligence. He is also a good husband and father. But I am skeptical of his words because trying to get the world to disarm might have the opposite effect.” Noting the throngs of mesmerized youth, she added: “I was shocked that I seemed to be the only elderly lady here. Maybe people of my generation are afraid, that they might not understand Obama and his policies.”

From the statements of various anti- DPRK nations, it is also getting clear that the country did not send any missile but sent its own satellite into the orbit for scientific research. Being a sovereign nation, surely they have that right. The messy criticism worldwide centering this issue should be certainly considered in neutral and rational manner. A safe Korean Peninsula does not mean a strong South Korea and a threatened DPRK. Each side should be shown equal respect and justice for the sake of global peace and stability.

Disclaimer: "The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article." © Sunita Paul.

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