North Korea, Missile and Nuclear Test

April 12th, 2012

By Dan Miller

NK rocket on launch padNorth Korea plans to launch an “Earth observation satellite” into orbit, possibly as soon as tonight New York time.

The missile launch to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung is scheduled for between April 12th and 16th.  All preparations, including fueling, are nearing completion.

The final preparations at the west coast launch pad were taking place as North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party convened for a special conference. Delegates are expected to further elevate new leader Kim Jong Un by giving him new titles, including some held by his father, the late Kim Jong Il.

According to this article,

In Pyongyang, officials said launch preparations were proceeding apace.

“We are injecting fuel as we speak. It has started (and it) will be over in the near future,” Paek Chang-Ho, director of North Korea’s mission control centre just outside Pyongyang, told foreign journalists.

“The launch of the satellite this time will be successful because Comrade Kim Jong-Un is guiding us through the launch step by step, and gives us personal guidance,” he said.

The tremendous expertise provided by Kim Jong-un has doubtless been quite frightening helpful in moving launch preparations along the ideologically correct path to success.

The launch seems likely to occur in the hours of early morning.  Since the time zone for Korea is thirteen hours ahead of that for New York, the launch could come as early as this evening, April 12th, New York time. Weather conditions appear to favor a launch then or on Saturday, April 14th (Friday evening in New York).

North Korea Rocket Trajectory

The missile’s intended path, as released by North Korea, shows that it will be launched from Sohae (Tongchang-ri) on the north western coast of North Korea near the border with China and head in a southerly direction. A better Google Earth depiction is available here.  Commercial airlines have shifted the routing of their aircraft away from the area.

Accurate missile guidance has not been a North Korean strong point and a significant easterly deviation from the projected initial flight path could take the missile over South Korea, where preparations have been made to shoot it down should that become necessary.  Japan has threatened similar action. My tentative guess is that there is perhaps a fifty percent chance that the missile’s path will deviate from that projected and that it will be shot down. North Korea has threatened “merciless retaliation” should that happen.

North Korea is also thought to be nearing completion of preparations for another underground nuclear test and that could come soon.

I have been following the story rather closely and plan to post an article as soon after launch as possible.

(This article was also posted at Dan Miller’s Blog.)

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