Belmont Club

5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Negotiations

A military analyst from the Examiner believes the chances of successfully intercepting a North Korean missile scheduled to be fired are “very good”, technically speaking. But politically, the intercept has no chance of happening at all. Former Spook comments, “Unfortunately, American political will is sorely lacking. Secretary of State Clinton rejected the intercept option earlier this week, saying that the U.S. will address the launch “through the appropriate channels.” In other words, we’ll run it through the U.N. Security Council, which will (probably) pass another meaningless resolution.”

U.S. and Japanese defenses have a high probability of success, if they are ordered to shoot down a North Korean ballistic missile that is currently being prepared for launch. That’s the assessment of a senior defense industry executive who is a veteran of the missile defense program. In an interview with, he said odds for a successful intercept are “very good,” based the availability of “layered” missile defenses, continued technological improvements, and Pyongyang’s planned launch window. …

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States had no plans to intercept the North Korean missile. If Pyongyang persists with its launch plans, Mrs. Clinton said the U.S. will “take up the matter through appropriate channels.”

Washington’s apparent reluctance to consider military options has created consternation among our allies in the region, particularly the Japanese. “Rest assured, they’d rather not have been put in this position” [by U.S. inaction], the defense executive commented.

He also suggested that the American military has been somewhat confused by the administration’s handling of the latest North Korean crisis. The expert said that recent comments by Admiral Timothy Keating, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, seemed to be both a statement of our capabilities and a veiled request for guidance.

The VOA confirms that although the US considers the North Korean launch “troubling”, it will not stop the launch. “A Japanese newspaper says North Korea is preparing to launch a short or medium-range missile in addition to a long-range rocket it plans to fire in early April. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says while he finds North Korea’s actions “troubling,” the United States has no plans to stop them. … “‘I think if we had an aberrant missile, one that was headed for Hawaii or something like that, we might consider it, but I do not think we have any plans to do anything like that at this point,’ said Robert Gates.”

The allies have threatened North Korea with further diplomatic action. “Japan, South Korea and the United States have threatened to press for fresh U.N. sanctions if North Korea follows through on its tests.” Fox News reported Secretary Gates as lamenting

the futility of diplomatic efforts toward North Korea and Iran, another nation with nuclear ambitions. Despite the Obama administration’s talk of ramping up diplomatic overtures toward Tehran, Gates was pessimistic about that strategy. “Frankly, from my perspective, the opportunity for success is probably more in economic sanctions in both places than it is in diplomacy,” Gates said. “What gets them to the table is economic sanctions.”