Where was Kim's exploded ICBM pointing?

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Douglas Hanson writes that it's unlikely that Kim Jong Il exploded his own long—range missile after 42 seconds yesterday. True, with one possible exception: if it was on course to a real target. Ballistic missiles have predictable trajectories soon after launch ——— that's why they're ballistic ——— and the US Goverment must know roughly where Kim's 9,300 mile Taepodong 2 was heading.

If it was bound for Japan, Okinawa, or US Navy vessels at sea, Kim could have destroyed it 42 seconds into flight quite deliberately, like a boxer pulling his punch to send the message: This one could have landed right on you, sucker.

I doubt that we'll find out where KIm's ICBM was heading. But you can be sure that all the watchers knew the likely targets within a dozen seconds of launch. If it was launched to kill, that news is now known to goverments all over the world.

One final thought. Iran seems to be following in Kim's exact footsteps: Public threats, public promises, and relentless nuke development. Repeat until you're immune from attack. Europe is still living in massive psychological denial of the WMD threat from the Mullahs. What would happen if Tehran decides to follow Pyongyang with a multiple missile launch? Would anybody wake up in Europe? Because Iran doesn't have the Pacific Ocean to fool around in. Distances are much shorter.

Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, the US Sixth Fleet are all less than a minute of missile travel from Iran. They might not wait 42 seconds to find out where the missiles were going. Human beings can't respond strategically in that kind of time. You have to plan ahead of time precisely how you will respond.

Which raises the same basic question again: How crazy are the Mullahs really? Do they understand the basic facts? Do they care? If not, the only rational defense would be an offense.

James Lewis   7 6 06

Douglas Hanson writes that it's unlikely that Kim Jong Il exploded his own long—range missile after 42 seconds yesterday. True, with one possible exception: if it was on course to a real target. Ballistic missiles have predictable trajectories soon after launch ——— that's why they're ballistic ——— and the US Goverment must know roughly where Kim's 9,300 mile Taepodong 2 was heading.

If it was bound for Japan, Okinawa, or US Navy vessels at sea, Kim could have destroyed it 42 seconds into flight quite deliberately, like a boxer pulling his punch to send the message: This one could have landed right on you, sucker.

I doubt that we'll find out where KIm's ICBM was heading. But you can be sure that all the watchers knew the likely targets within a dozen seconds of launch. If it was launched to kill, that news is now known to goverments all over the world.

One final thought. Iran seems to be following in Kim's exact footsteps: Public threats, public promises, and relentless nuke development. Repeat until you're immune from attack. Europe is still living in massive psychological denial of the WMD threat from the Mullahs. What would happen if Tehran decides to follow Pyongyang with a multiple missile launch? Would anybody wake up in Europe? Because Iran doesn't have the Pacific Ocean to fool around in. Distances are much shorter.

Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, the US Sixth Fleet are all less than a minute of missile travel from Iran. They might not wait 42 seconds to find out where the missiles were going. Human beings can't respond strategically in that kind of time. You have to plan ahead of time precisely how you will respond.

Which raises the same basic question again: How crazy are the Mullahs really? Do they understand the basic facts? Do they care? If not, the only rational defense would be an offense.

James Lewis   7 6 06