North Korea Launch Watch

North Korea’s new leader Kim Jong Un has displayed a number of signs in the last few months that might have led an observer to conclude that he would take a more “rational” approach to his country’s economy and people, and to the international community, said Adm. Samuel Locklear, US Pacific Command boss, on Dec. 6. However, with the country now preparing for another “peaceful satellite launch,” this hope may be fading. “We encourage the leadership in North Korea to consider what they are doing here and the implications on the overall security environment on the Korean Peninsula as well as in Asia,” Locklear told reporters during a Pentagon briefing. He noted that the US military was moving some ships into the region to monitor the upcoming launch and possibly support a ballistic missile defense activity. He said any missile launch would be “destabilizing” in the region. PACOM’s assessment is that the North Korean regime is seeking to demonstrate that it has the ability to conduct space launches and project its nuclear weapons capability where it chooses. The North Koreans have progressively gained better technology over time through a “number of methods” and have shown no willingness to cease developing this capability with the arrival of the new regime, said Locklear. (Locklear transcript)