The PJ Tatler

North Korea Tweaks Up the Threat

CNN reports that North Korea has put at least one of its mobile, long-range missiles into a launch position.

North Korea has raised at least one missile into its upright firing position, feeding concerns that a launch is imminent, a U.S. official told CNN Thursday.

This comes as the world continued to keep watch for a possible missile launch by the secretive government, and a day before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to arrive in the region.

In the latest daily tough talk from the North, a government agency is quoted by the state-run media as saying that “war can break out any moment.”

All signs now are pointing toward yet another missile launch by North Korea, played up for attention and probably as part of some power struggle within the regime. It’s difficult to tell what exactly may be going on, but the current Kim probably has less of a hold on the personality cult than either of his predecessors. His aunt is reportedly the power behind the throne. Their ground forces haven’t been spotted making any moves. The current campaign of bellicosity may be more about domestic politics than international, though the international implications of launching the missile that has been seen moving into launch position could be severe.

That missile, the Musudan, has an estimated range of about 3,500 miles, which means it could hit Guam. Guam is US territory and has several military bases, and now has missile defense to deal with the likely event of a launch, and the unlikely event that if the missile is aimed at Guam, it actually goes where the North Koreans aim it. A missile strike on Guam would obviously be an act of war, and would likely precipitate several US missiles and bombs raining down on Pyongyang and North Korean military forces on the ground. In fact, a splash anywhere near Guam is asking for trouble, or would be if we didn’t have the current national security team that we have. The trio of Kerry, Hagel and Obama don’t really come off as the shrewdest and strongest defenders of American soil or interests. The three may well take a strike as another opportunity to issue a mea culpa for some perceived American sin. Obama’s moves to shore up our missile defense, by the way, amount to admissions that George W. Bush was right to keep pushing for improvements in that part of our arsenal.

The best case scenario may be that Kim lights the missile, it’s a dud that blows up on or near the pad, and the humiliation triggers a coup that leads to a collapse of the regime. It’s a brittle, Communist-Nazi style dictatorship. Take out the Kim the Third and it could fall apart.