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N. Korea banking on missile launch to bring in big bucks

N. Korea banking on missile launch to bring in big bucks

Posted March. 20, 2012 05:06,   


North Korea on Nov. 6, 2000, agreed with the U.S. to freeze its- mid to long-range missile programs and ultimately dismantle them. This came some two years after Pyongyang fired its Taepodong 1 missile under the pretext of a satellite launch in August 1998.

In return, the North demanded U.S. aid of 1 billion U.S. dollars per year over the next three years, to which Washington agreed. To reach a conclusion, then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il invited U.S. President Bill Clinton to Pyongyang but then President-elect George W. Bush blocked Clinton from making the trip.

Many experts say the planned launch of the Kwangmyongsong-3 rocket next month is due to Pyongyang’s bid to internally consolidate or resolve conflict among its powerful organizations over the period of power transition. This makes sense but cannot fully explain the internal intent of the North, which effectively rejected the U.S. offer made Feb. 29 of nutritional assistance amounting to 240,000 tons and worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

An informed source on North Korean affairs said Monday, “The launch of the Kwangmyongsong-3 is part of the North`s sophisticated policy toward the U.S. based on its unique brinkmanship tactics,” adding, “To North Korea, the Kwangmyongsong-3 is a bargaining chip worth more than billions of dollars.”

In other words, analysts say that if Pyongyang continues to develop missiles, Washington will have no choice but return to the negotiating table with the communist regime and give compensation far larger than what North Korea received from the U.S. in 2000.

In 2000, North Korea put the Taepodong 1 missile, which had a range of just 1,600 kilometers, on the negotiating table and secured nearly 3 billion dollars in aid. The Taepodong-2 missile that Pyongyang test-fired in April 2009 flew nearly 3,200 kilometers. In nuclear tests conducted in 2006 and 2009, the North also demonstrated its capacity to possess nuclear weapons. What nuclear weapons is to missiles is what a horse is to a wagon.

Nevertheless, Washington has limited options to block Pyongyang. If the U.S. chooses to use sanctions, North Korea will go ahead and launch the Kwangmyongsong 4 and 5 and significantly enhance the performance of its missiles. Experts say Pyongyang is resorting to a brinkmanship tactic with a view to gaining massive compensation that could potentially determine the fate of the Kim Jong Un government.