North Korea rocket launch: 5 reasons it can be considered successful

Despite strict international sanctions, North Korea on Wednesday successfully launched a long-range rocket carrying a satellite into orbit, marking what seems to be a major advance in the regime’s weapons program.


While the move drew strong condemnation from the international community, along with a threat of even stronger sanctions, Victor Cha, the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), says there are several technological, domestic and international reasons North Korea may consider the launch successful

DPRK has developed the ballistic missile launch technology to fly a missile possibly 4,000 to 6,000 kilometers.

DPRK could sell this technology to others, including Iran and Pakistan, who have been regular customers of North Korea’s other missiles (Scud, Nodong, Musudan).

The North has crossed a major threshold in terms of mating an ICBM with a nuclear weapon. They still have other technological thresholds to cross (miniaturized warheads, reentry vehicle), but this was undeniably a major one.

The North can claim to have accomplished something the richer and more technologically advanced South Koreans could not yet do (putting a satellite in orbit on their own).

This successful launch probably helps the young leader Kim Jong-un with his domestic credibility after the failed test in April.

“The right to use outer space for peaceful purposes is universally recognized by international law, and it reflects the unanimous will of the international community,” North Korea’s state-run news agency quoted its Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying Wednesday.

“No matter what others say, we will continue to exercise our legitimate right to launch satellites and thus actively contribute to the economic construction and improvement of the standard of people’s living while conquering space.”

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He blogs and hosts a podcast at governmentality.net and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.

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Allen McDuffee · December 12, 2012