Wednesday, July 05, 2006

North Korea big gamble comes up bust.

World: A lot of analysis that Kim Jong-il failed testing of Taepodong-2 long-range missile among other that he shot off yesterday puts him in a bad spot. The White House calm response putting it on the UN security council to do something about it and in turn putting pressure on China, Russia and South Korea to get more involved.

USATODAY: SEOUL — North Korea's defiant launch of missiles Wednesday rattled its neighbors in northeast Asia, dismayed sympathetic governments in China and South Korea and strengthened the hand of a hard-liner seeking to become Japan's next prime minister."Obviously, this is huge bad news here," says regional analyst Jeff Kingston at Temple University Japan in Tokyo. The multiple missile tests were a vivid reminder that Japan and the thousands of U.S. troops stationed there are within range of North Korea's arsenal — even though the missiles apparently fell harmlessly into the Sea of Japan. North Korea's provocation boosted the prospects of Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, who is the front-runner in the race to replace Junichiro Koizumi as prime minister in September. Abe, vying for the job against politician Yasuo Fukuda and several long-shot candidates, built his political reputation in recent years by bashing North Korea for abducting Japanese citizens in the 1970s and '80s. "He's out in front on this issue. His popularity stems from demonizing North Korea," Kingston says. "Six o'clock in the morning (Wednesday), and he's giving a press conference. He looks like a take-charge leader." Abe promised Japan would take "stern action" against North Korea. The Japanese government quickly imposed a six-month ban on a North Korean ferry that docks every few weeks at the Japanese port Niigata, one of the reclusive state's few economic links to the outside world."Abe handled the case very well," says Toshiyuki Shikata, military analyst at Teikyo University in Tokyo. "The government's response this time was quick and clear like never before." Even South Korea, where President Roh Moo Hyun has continued his predecessor's "Sunshine Policy" of patience and generous aid to the impoverished but prickly North, lashed out at the Stalinist regime of Kim Jong Il. On national television, Suh Choo Suk, a top national security adviser in Seoul, called the decision to test-fire the missiles "an unwise act" and warned that North Korea would have to take "full responsibility for the consequences." Before the launch, South Korea had warned that a missile test would jeopardize North Korea's request for 500,000 tons of rice and 100,000 tons of fertilizer. The launches put more pressure on China to exert influence on its unruly ally."China keeps saying how it wants to be a responsible player and how it's going to provide responsible leadership in Asia," Kingston says. "This is certainly an opportunity for them to do something.""China has more impact than anyone else," agrees Yan Xuetong, international affairs professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. "But it doesn't mean we have a strong impact. ... North Korea does not listen to anyone." Yan says the Chinese are getting frustrated: "China is willing to provide aid, but we want to see results. We cannot provide aid for nothing."
KIM Jong-il's reputation as a strategic genius has taken a beating: his volley of missiles was a technical failure and, if his opponents play their cards right, a tactical blunder, as well.The biggest risk now is North Korea's tendency to undertake even greater provocations if it thinks its mask of dangerous unpredictability has slipped. Some analysts argue that the regime has already decided to end its six-month boycott of the six-nation talks in Beijing and the rocketry display was a pre-emptive bid for concessions, particularly from the Americans, when everybody returns to the table. If so, Kim's show of bravado masks a tactical failure. North Korea has not bluffed the Americans into lifting painful sanctions against a key banking outlet, Banco Delta Asia in Macao, which was its precondition for returning to the talks. Now, while the US and Japan prepare more sanctions, North Korea's well-wishers in Beijing and Seoul have been seriously embarrassed. The Chinese, who co-operated with the Russians to block any action by the UN Security Council except a limp-wristed statement of regret after Kim fired a Taepodong-1 across northern Japan in 1998, now face a difficult problem. What, if anything, will the putative "responsible stakeholder" in the world system allow the UN to do to check the regime's increasingly dangerous antics? Beijing, on whose Security Council veto the North Koreans rely to evade UN sanctions, must be quietly furious, while South Korea's Roh Moo-hyun administration ought to be in despair. Before the launch, South Korean envoys threatened Pyongyang with a squeeze on their economic co-operation. It was unprecedented tough talk from Seoul but they really hoped that any Taepodong-2 launch could again be portrayed as just a satellite delivery mission - as was the Taepodong-1. But yesterday's accompanying firing of at least one Nodong, a medium-range military rocket aimed principally at Japan, and short-range Scud Bs that target South Korea, was an undisguised gesture of belligerence. Not for the first time, Roh has been treated like a fool by Pyongyang, but these days, public confidence in his administration has collapsed. The next South Korean president will not be so wet about the North. To top it all off, Kim has demonstrated to the Americans that he does not have a credible missile threat to their territory and that his ICBM program, which shocked the world in August 1998, is still more rudimentary than feared.
Fred Kaplan(SLATE): If you're going to defy all your enemies and allies, you'd better come away from the gamble with added strength and leverage. Kim Jong-il emerges from the Taepodong disaster with his chips spent and a pair of deuces on the table.

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