North Korea admits rocket failed, may opt for nuclear test next

First, the good news: The Kim regime admitted on state-run television that their “satellite” launch failed.  The bad news: Newly-minted Dear Leader Kim Jong-un needs to save face, and what better way to that than to set off a nuke?

North Korea said its much hyped long-range rocket launch failed on Friday, in a very rare and embarrassing public admission of failure by the hermit state and a blow for its new young leader who faces international outrage over the attempt.

The isolated North, using the launch to celebrate the 100th birthday of the dead founding president Kim Il-sung and to mark the rise to power of his grandson Kim Jong-un, is now widely expected to press ahead with its third nuclear test to show its military strength.

“The possibility of an additional long-range rocket launch or a nuclear test, as well as a military provocation to strengthen internal solidarity is very high,” a senior South Korean defense ministry official told a parliamentary hearing.

This raises another question: why did Kim Jong-un launch the rocket at all?  North Korea’s military doesn’t exactly have a great track record of success in long-range missile tests.  The risk of failure was high, and the potential reward was … what, exactly?  A chance to look properly hardened for leadership?  It would have been smarter to use the threat to push for more aid and then to announce a deal in exchange for leaving what Jim Geraghty called the “three-stooge rocket” on the launching pad.

It seems like an odd time to roll the dice on something this risky.  Perhaps Kim has some opposition within the military and needed to flex his muscles, but all this did was expose their weaknesses.  Instead, the new Dear Leader has had to admit a humiliating failure to his people, and now won’t get the food aid that was coming before test:

The United States has canceled a proposed food aid deal with North Korea following over its attempt to launch a long-range rocket taking a satellite into orbit.

Senior administration officials told NBC News the deal with Pyongyang is off after the rocket was fired. It failed shortly after launch and landed in the sea off the South Korea coast.

A White House official, aboard Air Force One, told reporters: “We are not going forward with any agreement to provide them with assistance.”

The nuclear test might be a threat to force a better aid deal, but the young prince should take a lesson from this flop.  Their military has a mixed record on nuclear tests as well, although a nuke test won’t disintegrate in mid-air like the DPRK’s missile test did for all to see.

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