North Korea successfully launches long-range rocket

After a number of failures, the North Korean long-range rocket program achieved its first verified success yesterday. NORAD confirmed that the three stages fired successfully and “deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit.” Pyongyang crowed over the end of its losing streak, but will the world have anything to say in return?

North Korea successfully launched a rocket on Wednesday, boosting the credentials of its new leader and stepping up the threat the isolated and impoverished state poses to opponents.

The rocket, which North Korea says put a weather satellite into orbit, has been labeled by the United States, South Korea and Japan as a test of technology that could one day deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting targets as far away as the continental United States.

“The satellite has entered the planned orbit,” a North Korean television news reader clad in traditional Korean garb announced, after which the station played patriotic songs with the lyrics “Chosun (Korea) does what it says”. …

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said that it “deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit”, the first time an independent body has verified North Korean claims.

North Korea defied the UN again to launch this rocket, an action proscribed by a sheaf of UN resolutions that Pyongyang has ignored for decades.  Will this have any negative consequences for the Kim regime?  Almost certainly not.  The UN’s attention is fixed on Syria and Gaza at the moment, and with Russia essentially shrugging at Bashar al-Assad’s preparations to use chemical weapons on his own people, a rocket launch and a new North Korean satellite isn’t going to make Moscow break a diplomatic sweat.  The launch may have political repercussions in South Korea, which has elections next week, and in Japan, but those will produce longer-run and secondary repercussions, not any immediate rebuke.

CNN interviewed a professor of international relations in Seoul to discuss the consequences for Kim Jong-un.  It becomes clear pretty early on that the expert wants to argue that there will be some, but can’t think of any.

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