Thursday, June 22, 2006

South Korea
N. Korea
Missile Test
Not Imminent

From Associated Press:

SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea's defense minister said Thursday that it believes North Korea's missile launch is not imminent despite concern in the region that the communist nation would test-fire a long-range missile.

It is our judgment that a launch is not imminent," Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung told a parliamentary meeting in comments confirmed by his ministry.

"There are various procedures before the launch, and based on those procedures, that is how we see it," Yoon said, without elaborating.

Worries over a possible North Korean launch have grown in recent weeks after reports of activity at the country's launch site on its northeastern coast where U.S. officials say a Taepodong-2 missile — believed capable of reaching parts of the United States — is possibly being fueled.

Let's see, now. America's assessment of the situation is based upon the use of sophisticated satellite technology. I don't imagine that South Korea is employing anywhere near the technology of the United States in gaining the intelligence that they have with regards to the activities of North Korea.

Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that there may be something more going on here than meets the eye.

Here's an article on the situation from the perspective of a South Korean newspaper:

White House spokesman Tony Snow said Tuesday that President George W. Bush contacted some dozen heads of state on North Korea¡¯s rumored imminent launch of a ballistic missile. Surely the United States needs the closest cooperation from South Korea, but Bush did not talk to our president. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice substituted their talk with a conversation with Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon.

The Korean and American presidents had their last telephone conversation on Sept. 20 last year, the day after the six-nation talks on North Korea¡¯s nuclear program produced a statement of principle.

The period since saw a number of major issues other than the missile question arise between our two countries, including Pyongyang's dollar counterfeiting, an accord on strategic flexibility for the U.S. Forces Korea, the relocation of U.S. military bases to Pyongtaek and negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement. But the two presidents have had nothing to say to each other.
It is perhaps not so surpri

It is perhaps not so surprising. Bush wouldn't have anything to say on the missile issue, since the South Korean government has reportedly concluded that what the North is preparing to fire is more likely to be a satellite.

When the U.S. president ruled out a compromise on Pyonyang's counterfeiting of U.S. dollars, President Roh Moo-hyun said, "If the U.S. attempts to resolve the issue by pressuring North Korea in a manner wishing to see the regime collapse, conflicts will arise between South Korea and the U.S."

While the U.S. president invited North Korean defectors, describing one such encounter as the most moving of his tenure, the South Korean chief executive has not met a single one of the over 8,000 North Korean refugees living in the South.

Those differences have most likely cost South Korea its hotline to the White House and have driven it into isolation in the international community. Japan has aligned itself with the U.S. ever more closely as South Korea drifted away.

The new overtures this government has made toward China have produced no echoes. This administration also tried to open a line to the North in an attempt to ease its isolation with its "one nation" rhetoric. "There are things that I can¡¯t readily do because of our relationship with our neighbors including the U.S.,¡± the president has said. ¡°But if former president Kim Dae-jung opens the way (though his visit to the North), I may be able to do them indirectly.¡± But North Korea has stopped a visit the president begged for by offering "unconditional aid to the North." It is a sad president who is unable even to visit the North ¡°indirectly.¡±

Why does South Korea find itself isolated in the international community and its communication channels with the North blocked at the same time? This administration¡¯s slogans, from "independent alliance diplomacy" -- somehow seeking both independence and alliance -- to calling for Korea to play the role of a balancer between the U.S. and China while firmly cementing its cooperation with Washington, via a "cooperative but independent national defense," offering cooperation while leading the alliance, have claimed a high price -- an independent defense outlay running to hundreds of trillions of won.

Such slogans from the administration originate in an unusual mindset that reads the world not as it is but as it wants it to be. While every other country on earth lives in the orbit of world powers, our government insists that all other countries should circle around South Korea. Geocentrist leaders who persist that the sun circles the Earth are driving the satellite called South Korea on a collision course. And the people will have to live with this government in fear and trembling for another year and a half.

So, if this South Korean editorial writers' opinion is accurate, the current South Korean government seems to think that North Korea's belligerence offers an opportunity to play politics, and boost South Korea's power on the world stage.

What better way than to take a contrary opinion to the United States?

If North Korea increases its military power, who is in more danger than South Korea? Japan perhaps. But, one would assume that South Korea's response to saber-rattling from its neighbor would be serious concern, not a posture of calm assurance.

North Korea has within the last few days called for talks with the United States over the missile situation. If they were simply launching a satellite, these calls would have been the perfect time to clear up the misunderstanding.

So, why is South Korea convinced that North Korea is not launching a missile?

We know that China is helping Iran with its pursuit of nuclear weapons. China seems to believe that by increasing Iran's power, they can set up a proxy challenge to the United States, and thus decrease American power. So far, this strategy seems to be working pretty well.

Could it be that Chinese diplomats are feeding South Korea erroneous information in order to set up another proxy challenge to the United States in the heart of Asia?