Are You Scared About North Korea’s Thermonuclear ICBM?

February 23, 2016
Jeffrey Lewis

The following is an excerpt of an article published February 19 by Foreign Policy.

Kwangmyongsong missile

Kwangmyongsong missile
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North Korea launched yet another satellite last week and it went right over the Super Bowl. Talk about godless commies. Pyongyang watcher Martyn Williams calculated that the North Korean satellite would be overhead during the big game and tweeted out that strange fact as a bit of a lark, but Breitbart felt the need to check with the FBI, who referred the “news organization” to the U.S. military.

The rocket that put the satellite in orbit had a new name written on it — Kwangmyeongseong or “Shining Star” — but it looked awfully familiar. Basically, it’s the same rocket that North Korea launched in 2006, 2009, and twice in 2012. These rockets have had various names, but in the United States we call them the same thing — the Taepodong-2. (Taepo is the name of a small village, or dong, near the missile test site where it was first observed.) And while North Korea says this rocket series is for putting satellites in orbit, the United States has long asserted that the Taepodong-2 is a de facto intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM).

The rocket launch itself isn’t terribly surprising. After all, North Korea has been renovating the Sohae Satellite Launching Station for several years now and pumping out propaganda about its space program. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t get neighbors in a tizzy.

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