Preparing for any contingencyNorth Korea’s closely watched rocket launch was proven to be a dud moments after being fired yesterday. The rocket carrying a so-called weather satellite fell into the Yellow Sea, drowning millions of dollars that could have bought a year’s worth of food for the North’s starving people.
The satellite launch was executed despite international condemnation and warnings of fresh punitive actions for violating an international ban on any long-range missile activities. It is regretful that the impoverished country, whose economy is in dire straits due to years of trade sanctions, is wasting its resources on propaganda and political ambitions.
Now, there will inevitably be more pressure from the international community. Although the UN Security Council is unlikely to adopt fresh sanctions, it could consider condemning Pyongyang in a way that could further undermine the isolated country’s international status. North Korea will be further cut off from much-needed humanitarian aid.
Western societies, led by the United States and Japan, may study new sanctions. Washington has already warned that it would suspend food aid to North Korea that it had promised in return for a moratorium on missile and nuclear arms programs in February if the launch went ahead.
The flop of the “rocket show,” which would also have served as a cause for celebration for the new leadership of Kim Jong-un, could now deal a blow to the leadership in the eyes of the public. Disillusionment may rise as North Koreans realize that pledges to become a powerful nation by this year will never be realized. The North Korean elite will now be strongly tested due to a series of mishaps under the helm of their new and inexperienced leader.
Inner strife in Pyongyang could spell bad news for the region. The hawkish faction in the North could turn more aggressive to make amends for its failures, and the young leader would inevitably have to go along. Some intelligence sources say the regime is readying a third nuclear test. If it pursues this, the international community will only be further angered.
North Korea’s failed missile launch, the possibility of a subsequent nuclear test and leadership insecurity all threaten regional safety. We must be ready for any and all catastrophic events. The government should join the international chorus in condemning the rocket launch, but also take various precautionary steps at the same time.