March 28th, 2012
02:26 PM ET

N. Korean missile launch 'troublesome'

By Larry Shaughnessy

U.S. military officials are anxiously awaiting North Korea's announced ballistic missile launch, which they described to Congress on Wednesday as part of the regime's "coercive strategy" to antagonize, provoke and then try to win concessions.

April 15 will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Song, the founder of communist North Korea and the grandfather of the current North Korean leader, who has said there will be a missile launch around that date, in violation of numerous U.N. resolutions and the most recent agreement with the United States.

North Korea has designated the entire year of 2012 as a year of strength and prosperity in celebration of Kim Il Song's birthday.

"Our suspicions about North Korea using its celebrations this year to enhance its missile program were confirmed when North Korea announced on March 16 that it plans to conduct a missile launch between April 12 and 16," Peter Lavoy, the acting assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific security affairs, testified Wednesday at a hearing of the House Armed Service Committee.

"This planned launch is highly provocative because it manifests North Korea's desire to test and expand its long-range missile capability," he said.

It's not just the United States and South Korea who are concerned about a North Korean missile launch. The missile, if it works as planned - and the North's missiles often don't - is expected to fly south close to several East Asian nations.

"A number of countries are potentially affected," Lavoy said. "This could fall on - the debris could fall on their countries; could cause casualties. This affects South Korea, of course, but also Japan - Okinawa.

He noted that "the intended impact is probably somewhere close to the Philippines or maybe Indonesia."

Part of the U.S. agreement with North Korea was that Washington would send food aid there if Pyongyang agreed to a moratorium on missile launches.

"North Korea's announcement is also troublesome," Lavoy said, "because only two weeks prior in a February 29 statement, after three rounds of bilateral talks, North Korea had agreed to implement a moratorium on long-range missile launches. During those discussions the United States made it very clear that a satellite launch would be a deal breaker."

The suspension of food aid to North Korea was not just because of the threatened missile launch, Lavoy testified. The United States needed and did not get assurances that the food would get to ordinary citizens, not North Korea's ruling elite, he said.

The announcement of the launch soon after appearing to agree to new concession is part of a familiar North Korean cycle, according to the top commander of U.S. forces in South Korea.

"The way I look at this: North Korea uses a coercive strategy, and they use that strategy to get concessions," said Army Gen. James Thurman, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea. "First off, they will not, I don't believe, give up their capabilities in regard to ballistic missiles because they see that as a means to protect the regime. In regard to the coercive strategy, we've seen this cycle where they demand concessions, they don't get what they want - or they get what they want - they antagonize, they provoke, and then they go back into an appease mode.

"We've watched that on a continuous basis, so my sense is that they're going to continue to use that as long as they follow their military-first policy, which I believe goes to protect the Kim family and the whole Communist party there."

The hearing also brought attention to North Korea's sudden interest in computer attacks on South Korea and the United States.

"The newest addition to the North Korean asymmetric arsenal is a growing cyberwarfare capability," Thurman said in a written statement prepared for the hearing. "North Korea employs sophisticated computer hackers trained to launch cyber-infiltration and cyberattacks against" the Republic of Korea and the United States.

He said North Korea can launch these attacks without American officials knowing where they come from. The attacks "have been increasingly employed against a variety of targets including military, governmental, educations, and commercial institutions," Thurman wrote.

Asked in the hearing what the U.S. forces in South Korea are doing to prevent such attacks, Thurman declined to discuss details in the open hearing, but he did testify that "we work hand in hand with the (South Korean) military on the protection of our networks and, particularly, looking at interoperability."

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. dark matter

    that is a big problem not only 1 or 2 country a whole planet

    April 1, 2012 at 8:40 am | Reply
  2. daya

    its right of Nk, to do so, what about middle east, isreli missile kill palestine at that time america remain happy, if the case is not in his favour then its not fair. What a democracy man! If american want peaceful world then first it must start from middle east

    March 31, 2012 at 8:42 am | Reply
  3. mac

    north korea is a threat to america and has the capability to all ready have a nuclear arsenal .do you want to deal with them now are wait ten years so they can have many more and long range capabilities where the war would be in our backyards! not a easy decision no one wants nuclear war but waiting could be a disaster.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:15 am | Reply
    • Too Late for US, TG

      They already have the nuclear ICBM'. Period. They showed this capability in 1998 with their first satellite. Contrary to popular belief, it was a success as was noted in NASA website in 2000. The fact that warmongering war criminal Bush gang could NOT attack NK also attest to this fact. If NK did not nuclear ICBM arsenal, their fate and the rest of the north east asian region would have met the same fate that had fallen to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.

      April 1, 2012 at 10:17 am | Reply
  4. helenecha

    kill em all

    March 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Reply
  5. helenecha

    No surprise. After the launch, North Korea will face all the consequences that people asked for in this world. Besides, before the launch, North Korea leaders had better check their watch. Now it is 2012. But the leaders of this country as well as the adherents of this country could only help North Korean people live with backward and poverty all the time quite different from South Korean people.

    March 29, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Reply
  6. nvsun

    Let's feed the starving Americans before we give food to foreign countries, friend or foe.

    March 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Reply
    • Hal Eskew Jr Gulf Shores AL

      Let;s quit mixing our gasoline with 10% of things we can feed people to keep this price down for elections and feed the people who need it here and around the world. God sure has given us more than enough oil to do it. I wonder if our current politicians are the true Anti-Christs .... lol

      March 30, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Reply
  7. Nathan

    The US needs to stop helping NK. I hate to say it, because it will lead to even more suffering and starvation amongst the North Korean people, but it is neccessary. Hopefully the people of North Korea will be able to find the courage to overthrow this tyrannical dictatorship soon, but until they do, we need to stop helping them.

    March 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Reply
    • Rick

      The people in North Korea are starved adn imprisoned. The best thing they could do is throw themselves at the guns of the NK military and die in the thousands until China decides it can't protect the regime any longer. unfortunately, dying in teh thousands hasn't helped the people of Syria much, so even that hope is thin.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Reply
      • stopthewar

        NK is really giving a lot of people problems.. i mean if only china could do something to help, coz if you look closely china is so huge and NK is so near. america could try to seek help for china to do something instead of doing nothing, i mean i think the starving people in NK are also feed up with the dictatorship. i mean come on enough is enough

        April 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  8. Salahuddin

    Two great articles at theruggedgent(dot)com about Korea. The Ryugyong Hotel: North Korea’s Deathstar and The Last Bastion of the Cold War: Understanding a Divided Korea

    March 29, 2012 at 8:25 am | Reply
    • Hal Eskew Jr Gulf Shores AL

      When you have two countries that know very little about each other, it fuels the chance of war.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Reply
  9. john

    The kis needs to stop eating the McD's and Twinkies. It is time the West just tells NK go screw themselves and leave the aid packages for China to provide. Afterall, NK is China's notorious step-child. China uses NK when itself is not happy. China is upset that the US is increasing presence in the South China Sea regarding the Spratly Islands which China claims are all theirs'. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the US beg to differ.

    March 29, 2012 at 7:37 am | Reply
  10. The Rock

    Troublesome? It's downright dastardly. Kill all those gooks before they get out of line.

    March 29, 2012 at 12:46 am | Reply
    • Concerned

      I do not understand why we as a government allow for the abuse of the North Korean citizens. We need to stop the North from starving people everyday. It is time for the South, and the American Government (military) to come up with a strategy to peacefully or force the North Korean regime out. It is not to starve people to death, while the US sends aid that does not reach the ordinary citizens.

      March 29, 2012 at 3:59 am | Reply
      • Luna Lovegood

        but to North Korea, "peaceful" is twenty US armies attacking them and threatening them to not eat for five months

        March 29, 2012 at 7:16 am |
  11. VA-GUY

    Emperor,

    The reason the U.S and other nations are against a North Korean lunch, has nothing to do with spying. North Korea is using the "satellite" excuse to cover up the bigger issue- the test of a missile. If North Korea can successfully launch a satellite, which they are fully entitled to do, they are one step closer to launching a a missile with a nuclear warhead.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Reply
  12. Joe

    Put North Korea on Ebay

    March 28, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Reply
  13. emperor

    I am no fan of N Korea BUT I dun understand why the launching of a satellite by NK is deemed provocative when practically everyone around NK has some sort of satellite up there spying..!! Is spying an exclusive right of US and only US sanction countries can have satellites..??

    March 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Reply
    • Texan spirit

      China sux compare to Mexico

      March 29, 2012 at 12:58 am | Reply
  14. fed up

    2 million N. Koreans have starved to death. Food is given to the soldiers while citizens starve. I thought that was really bad, until I read China has starved 100 million of their people. How disgusting for our politicans to borrow a trillion dollars from a country, that has killed a hundred million of their own people.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Reply
  15. Roland

    We (US) should position our radio and microwave satellite on their (NK) satellite.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Reply
  16. telegram

    SPLASH T , BEST WORDS of the BEST RESULT >>> MISSION FAILURE , ABHORT

    March 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Reply
  17. Daph1

    It's apparent that North Korea is not serious about moving forward to improve their country. Instead, they are asking developed nations for food and provoking them in return. I say invite the the young ruler to visit and communicate their strategy to the developed nations of the world. He can't hide behind his father's skirt then!

    March 28, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Reply
  18. Hahahahahaha

    Let the eat their missles. No food for them. Hahahahahahaha

    March 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Reply
  19. muhammed nasir

    m

    March 28, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Reply
  20. brown

    In the end, history will affirm that Western appeasment of NK prolonged the suffering of the North Korean people.

    March 28, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Reply

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