People fear that North Korea and Iran could be working together on missile technology to develop platforms for nuclear weapons. They may be working together on Photoshop technology to make claims of progress on those platforms as well. The US now says Pyongyang doctored photographs that purported to show a successful test of a sub-launched missile while Dear Leader observed:

Photos showing a North Korean missile launched from a submarine were manipulated by state propagandists, a top U.S. military official said on Tuesday.

The Kim regime insists that they now have the launch platform, and the miniaturization necessary to put nuclear warheads on it:

North Korea said Wednesday it has the technology to make nuclear warheads small enough to be mounted on missiles, a day after a top U.S. military officer said the country was many years away from such an ability.

A spokesman for Pyongyang’s powerful National Defense Commission said in a statement Wednesday that it will defend the country with such technology, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency. The North Korean report was carried by the South Korean news agency Yonhap, the country’s largest news agency.

The statement said North Korea already had the technology required, but it did not make clear whether it had yet succeeded in making any such nuclear warheads, according to Yonhap.

The picture itself is so obviously staged that it didn’t occur to me to take it seriously in the first place when I first saw it last week. The foreground appears to have been added to the image in order to bolster Dear Leader’s omnipresence in the DPRK. The rocket launch itself has come under scrutiny from aerospace experts, and not just at the Pentagon:

kim-missile-lg

Analysis seen by Reuters from German aerospace engineers Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker of Schmucker Technologie appeared to support Winnefeld’s statement.

The Munich-based pair said photos of the launch were “strongly modified,” including reflections of the missile exhaust flame in the water which did not line up with the missile itself.

The consensus seems to be that the North Koreans want to wring more concessions out of the US and its allies with this latest posturing. That fits the pattern set by Kim’s father, which was to offer provocations and then demand appeasement, usually in the form of food or fuel. A recent execution of a high-ranking official in the Kim regime may have Dear Leader needing to look as though he can handle the job. Hence the saber-rattling in hope of getting the US and its regional partners to offer Kim something that will enhance his prestige.

The problem with this kind of bluffing is that it could lead to a real war. The US has tried to contain North Korea ever since it broke out and produced a nuclear weapon, and have pressured China to put a leash on their rocket technology. They finally produced an ICBM which could hit a wide range of Pacific theater targets, but an operational sub missile platform could hit practically anywhere in the US. We would have no choice but to act if subs with that capability came anywhere near range of the US.

Pyongyang has canceled a planned visit from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the midst of the contretemps:

That’s also SOP for these DPRK tantrums. Let’s hope that’s all they are, but even if that’s the case, this kind of technology isn’t out of reach for Pyongyang. Eventually they will figure out the sub launch platform and the miniaturization technology — and when they do, the US, Japan, South Korea, and even China will have real problems on their hands. The appeasement that we have conducted with the Kims for the past two decades continues to provide valuable lessons to the Iranians, and vice versa, that go far beyond the value of Photoshop.