Sunday, April 5, 2009

The DPRK Problem

At approximately 11:30am today, all of Japan virtually froze as it was announced that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has just launched a long-range ballistic missile. For a moment, the people of Japan, particularly those in the North, stood in fear of a missile test failure. A battery of surface-to-air missile defense units have been in place since Saturday to intercept the missile or any falling debris which may land on Japanese soil.

Thankfully, the missile safely cruised over Japan. The first stage booster dropped in the Sea of Japan off Akita prefecture in the west while the rest of the missile landed in the Pacific Ocean off the Japanese east coast.

Defying protests from the international community and violating a U.N.-imposed missile ban, the North Korean government claims that the launched missile was carrying a communications satellite into space. But the whole world knows that the missile, a Taepodong-2, can carry more than just a satellite. It can also be used to launch nuclear weapons. Many believe that this morning's launch is just a cover to test North Korea's long-range missile technology.

What then could the world do about North Korea's defiant act?

Clearly, the existing sanctions against North Korea is not effective and the U.N. Security Council should review its previous resolutions. One example is Resolution 1718, which was adopted in 2006 after North Korea conducted nuclear tests. That resolution states that all member nations should prevent the transfer of goods and devices that could help advance the DPRK's nuclear and missile development programs. To date, there have been no reports of cargo inspections ever being conducted under the terms of the resolution. Which means, for the past 3 years, North Korea has been successfully importing missile components through clandestine channels.

Ironically, it appears that North Korea has been using Japanese instruments and technology to develop its missiles, including the one launched this morning. In 2003, an engineer who defected from North Korea testified that about 90 percent of the parts used for one type of North Korean missile originated from Japan.

This only proves that the North Korean threat is far from being stopped. It would take absolute cooperation from all countries around the world to totally eliminate the problem. Until then, the people in Japan, including foreign residents like me, can only only hope that the authorities will do their jobs while we fervently pray to high heavens that the next missile launch will never happen.

A missile interceptor is poised to defend Japanese soil from threat
(courtesy of

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