Friday, July 07, 2006

North Korean Missile Was Aimed at Hawaii

If there's still anyone making light of the recent failures and apparent ineptness displayed by the North Koreans in their recent missile tests, they may want to consider sobering up in a hurry:

TOKYO (Reuters) - A North Korean missile launched on Wednesday was aimed at an area of the ocean close to Hawaii, a Japanese newspaper reported on Friday.

Experts estimated the Taepodong-2 ballistic missile to have a range of up to 6,000 km, putting Alaska within its reach. Wednesday's launch apparently failed shortly after take-off and the missile landed in the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan, a few hundred kilometres from the launch pad.

But data from U.S. and Japanese Aegis radar-equipped destroyers and surveillance aircraft on the missile's angle of take-off and altitude indicated that it was heading for waters near Hawaii, the Sankei Shimbun reported, citing multiple sources in the United States and Japan.

North Korea may have targeted Hawaii to show the United States that it was capable of landing a missile there, or because it is home to the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific fleet, the paper said.

An alternative explanation might be that a missile could accidentally hit land if fired towards Alaska, the report said.

I'm not putting a lot of stock in the alternative explanation. I'm not necessarily implying that Kim Jong-Il intended to hit Hawaii, but I'm convinced he wanted to get close, if for no other reason than to prove that he could. He needs to know if our missile defense system can stop him and whether or not we are willing to use it.

Fortunately, the missile failed this time and he didn't get the answer he was looking for. However, it is worth noting that the United States experienced numerous failures of Redstone, Atlas, and Saturn V rockets before we finally orbited the earth and eventually landed on the moon.

The difference in the determination of a madman and that of a sane one can be razor thin regarless of whether the goal is good or evil. We can't bet on continued failure: If they light another candle, we must send the message that we are willing, ready, and able to extinguish it.

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