Early this morning, North Korea conducted another test launch of an ICBM, believed to be its Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile. It didn’t go well. The missile flew in an erratic fashion before breaking up, with pieces of it raining down toward the ground. That’s not particularly unusual since the Hwasong-17 is believed to still be in its developmental phase and things can go wrong during testing. What made this launch more unusual, however, was the location where it took place. Rather than using a traditional launch site close to the coast, the North Koreans fired it from the Sunan International Airport, located only ten miles to the northwest of the capital city of Pyongyang. This led to debris from the failed rocket raining down onto the capital city. The decision to use their airport as a launch site was described by one analyst from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies as “absolutely bonkers.” (Reuters)
North Korea’s decision to use the international airport near its capital city as a site for test-firing large missiles is “absolutely bonkers” and may be a way for leader Kim Jong Un to keep a close eye on his most prized weapons, analysts said.
Debris fell in or near Pyongyang after a failed test-fire from the airport on Wednesday, Seoul-based NK News reported, citing unnamed witnesses and a photograph of the test showing a red-tinted ball of smoke at the end of a zig-zagging rocket launch trail in the sky above the city.
There was no immediate confirmation of damage or casualties.
Intelligence sources claim that this isn’t the first time North Korea has conducted a test launch from the Sunan airport. They began using the runway there for these purposes as early as 2017 and a launch support and control facility has been constructed there. But this is the first time one of those attempts has gone so spectacularly wrong and resulted in ICBM debris raining down on the city streets.
But why take the risk of doing this? According to one analyst quoted by Reuters, the airport is “conveniently located” so that Kim Jong-un can come to observe the tests without being detected. The secretive leader doesn’t want the west to be able to track his movements, but he loves releasing publicity photos of himself overseeing the country’s military testing.
This is yet another example of North Korea’s diminutive dictator demonstrating the complete lack of concern he has for the welfare of his own people. He spends his nation’s limited funds lavishly on his nuclear weapons and missile programs while people continue to literally starve to death all over the country. Kim cares far more about his own public relations efforts and the international spotlight than he does about taking care of his citizens. As Reuters reminds us, Kim authorized an earlier test launch of the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile in 2017 and it failed in a similar fashion, falling into a populated area, though it was well outside of the capital.
I continue to be amazed at how the people of North Korea seem to be hypnotized by Kim’s family and don’t rise up against him. Hundreds of thousands of them languish and die in the North Korean forced labor camps if they are suspected of any sort of disloyalty to Kim. Those who aren’t hauled away in the night frequently can’t find enough to eat and their health care options are those you would expect to find in a third-world nation. And now Kim is raining down ICBM wreckage on the streets of the capital. When will enough be enough?
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