(Anthony Sharwood, news.com.au, December 12, 2012) NORTH Korea launched its rocket today to flex its military muscles both at home and abroad, a leading Korean expert says.
Speaking exclusively to news.com.au, University of Sydney lecturer Dr Leonid Petrov said North Korea had three main reasons for launching an intercontinental rocket.
“North Korea had promised to launch the rocket between the 10th and 22nd of December, and they have kept that promise,” Dr Petrov said.
“These dates are important because it is one year since the death of Kim Jong-il.
“It was extremely important to them to launch this satellite and at this time. The new technology sends a strong signal to the domestic audience that North Korea is still a strong self-reliant economic power.
“The second message they are sending is to the world.
“They are saying that they have advanced rocket technology, and sooner and later will be able to deliver a nuclear payload. Until today they could not deliver it but they have now demonstrated they are one major step forward in the arms race.”
The third reason North Korea launched the rocket today is strongly related to the other two.
“Basically, Korea has nothing to lose because of the UN sanctions against N Korea which have existed since 1950,” Dr Petrov explains.
“All that matters to the [ruling] family is the survival of the regime. A change of regime could happen if there are perceived weaknesses.”
After initially passing over Japan and leaving fragments in the sea near the Philippines, the the rocket has now reportedly deployed its satellite successfully.
Dr Petrov doubts that it will add much to North Korea’s overall communications infrastructure.
“The technological value of this satellite is propaganda. It is a firework to commemorate Kim Jong-il and show the world they have intercontinental missile capabilities.
Meanwhile, as South Korea calls an emergency meeting to deal with the crisis, Dr Petrov points out that general elections are just a week off in South Korea.
“North Korea is now one step ahead in the space race in the Korean peninsula, so South Koreans will be worried about national security. This launch might somehow influence the behaviour of voters.”