Tuesday, March 31, 2009

North Korea Stoking Tensions

UPDATE 4-4: North Korea launches. Read more here.
North Korea is getting testy, threatening to blow six party talks to end nuclear weapons testing, putting two U.S. journalists on trial and threatening war with Japan.
North Korea says it's launching a communications satellite between April 4-8. Japan says it's going to shoot it down and Robert Gates says the launch is a mask for development of a ballistic missile. Good grief.
WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - A missile North Korea could launch as soon as this weekend appears to have a bulb-shaped tip that gives credence to Pyongyang's claim it plans to put a satellite in space, U.S. defense officials said on Tuesday.

Washington and others have voiced concern the launch will be a test of a long-range missile that could carry a warhead as far as U.S. territory. Pyongyang's plans have alarmed the region and intensified pressure on the North not to launch its Taepodong-2. A Taepodong-2 test in 2006 failed.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the launch, which North Korea says will occur between April 4 and 8, would deal a blow to six-party talks to end Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

Further stoking tensions, North Korea said on Tuesday it would put on trial two U.S. journalists arrested this month on its border with China.

The reclusive state accused the two female reporters, Laura Ling and Euna Lee from the U.S.-based media outlet Current TV, of unspecified "hostile acts."

"The illegal entry of U.S. reporters into the DPRK (North Korea) and their suspected hostile acts have been confirmed by evidence and their statements, according to the results of intermediary investigation conducted by a competent organ of the DPRK," North Korea's KCNA news agency said.
This from Bloomberg: 
North Korea accuses Japan of using the launch, scheduled to take place between April 4 and 8, as a pretext to build its own nuclear arsenal.

The North Korean news agency, in its statement, said, “The primary aim sought by Japan through this is to bring the six- party talks to collapse and delay the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and thus justify its ambition for nuclear weaponization.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on March 29 called the launch “a mask” for development of an intercontinental ballistic missile by North Korea.