Tue, 05 Oct 2004 11:55:20 -0400
Subject: N. Korea `ready' to fire off missile
Nota: Comentario de www.ciberpunk.net:
Aparecido en Asahi Shimbun (5/10/2004). El informe de la comisión de expertos sobre defensa y seguridad que aconseja a Koizumi le insta a abrir el mercado armamentístico en aras a "mejorar la competitividad de las empresas japonesas". También a "estrechar lazos con EEUU"... qué remedio, Corea del Norte -recuerda puntualmente el bueno de Collin Powell- está listo para lanzar en cuestión de horas misiles a territorio japonés. Nada grave, dicen: sólo busca tener elementos extra con los que negociar ayuda internacional a cambio de cesar su programa nuclear y balístico. El chantaje de los estados pirata. Pero los japoneses no están para bromas. La opción de jugar una mayor independencia regional e internacional se torna cada día más correosa: la experiencia en Iraq, el rechazo a popular a las pretensiones americanas de llevar la dirección de sus operaciones especiales para Asia y Africa a Japón, el miedo al terrorismo, las campañas antijaponesas en China, la presión del gigante sobre Taiwan, el horror de Corea con la bomba atómica apuntando al país... Koizumi intenta navegar entre la necesidad de una defensa creible (que ya no puede ser tradicional) y la renuencia a los acogedores brazos del amigo americano. Y esa horrible sensación de falta de tiempo, de lentitud en una época acelerada.
N. Korea `ready' to fire off missile
By NOBUYOSHI SAKAJIRI, The Asahi Shimbun
WASHINGTON--North Korea may be bluffing, but it appears ready to launch one or more Rodong ballistic missiles capable of hitting Japan anytime it wants, according to a senior U.S. official.
On the other hand, Pyongyang's posture may simply be aimed at gaining leverage in future negotiations, the official told The Asahi Shimbun here Thursday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said latest U.S. intelligence showed that preparations for a launch of the medium-range missile appear complete.
``My understanding is they right now could shoot it anytime they want,'' the official said. ``They are pretty well prepared to do it. There might be a few more steps they have to take, but they will not take long.''
The official's comments suggest North Korean technicians have filled rockets with liquid fuel. Thus, it would only be a matter of hours before a missile was ready for launch. The official suggested that the technicians may only need to conduct final checks before blast-off.
Washington, like Japan, is stepping up surveillance of the Korean Peninsula to try to ascertain whether Pyongyang is bluffing in an attempt to gain concessions at six-way talks on its nuclear development programs, or in fact is getting ready to fire a missile.
The U.S. official said the intelligence was gleaned from satellites and monitoring of telecommunications. He said the Pentagon is fairly certain that Pyongyang is preparing to launch or test-fire a Rodong missile.
The official noted that the North was well aware its moves are being monitored by the United States. He indicated that launch preparations are being done at sites easily visible from the sky, not at mobile launch pads hidden in forests.
Some in Washington believe North Korea ``expects us to go running to them, begging them to stop,'' the official said. This, he theorized, might be a North Korean gambit to gain concessions from the international community in return for its agreement to freeze its nuclear and missile programs.
The official said Washington is not ruling out the possibility the North is ``actually preparing for a launch.''
He noted that Pyongyang expressed its hope during recent six-nation talks that the United States and other participants-Japan, South Korea, Russia and China-would reward North Korea for shelving its nuclear and missile ambitions.
The official said the United States would not be intimidated, adding there is no possibility of Washington altering its position that North Korea abandon its programs in a verifiable manner.
Meantime, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday warned North Korea not to break the extended moratorium on missile launches it promised Japan in 2002.
``I think it would be very unfortunate if the North Koreans were to do something like this and break out of the moratorium that they have been following for a number of years,'' Powell told a news conference in New York after meeting with South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Ban Ki Moon.
Powell called such a development ``a very troubling matter'' for China, Russia and Japan.(IHT/Asahi: September 25,2004) (09/25)