Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gates Preps For Potential N. Korean Missile

While the most recent North Korean missile launch was notable for less for its aeronautics than its ability to broadcast underwater (the missile fell into the sea shortly after launch-despite N. Korean claims to the contrary), Defense Secretary Gates is giving the Norks the benefit of the doubt that they may achieve something closer to success in their next (rumored) launch.

The initial Japanese media reports that the N. Korean government has plans to test a ballistic missile was not a surprise, but its intended flight path-in the direction of Hawaii-was. 

Despite the lack-luster track record of N. Korean ballistic missiles, Gates is taking the threat seriously and has decided to deploy the experimental missile shield radar to Hawaii

Gates decided against deploying the missile shield during the March N. Korean missile test, despite some reports that he might due so for monitoring purposes. At least part of the evident reasoning was that it was in dry-dock for maintenance. The March missile's aquatic ambitions bore out Gate's decision.

Now however, the radar is out of the shop and while it is unlikely there has been no great advancement in N. Korean missile tech to point to any major concerns, the opportunity of another test plus the N. Korean threats certainly warrants a watchful eye.

The folks over at Arms Control Wonk have some great information on history of N. Korean tests, and will also be keeping a close eye on events (likely including some deep-in-the-details trajectory analysis).

- Murphy

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