Today's the day: NoKo's probable missile launch
It wouldn't surprise me a bit if Kim Jong-Un woke up this morning and decided that since his "surprise" missile test launch wasn't much of a surprise anymore, that he cancels it and issues more bellicose rhetoric.
Or, he may go ahead with it, enjoying the prospect of seeing the entire region on edge.
Although North Korea has tested many of its short-range Scud and medium-range Rodong missiles, it has never flight-tested the longer-range Musudan, believed to have a range of around 2,175 miles. A successful test of the missile would demonstrate the North's potential to hit not only South Korea but also all of Japan and targets as far away as the American military bases on the Pacific island of Guam.
"Based on intelligence we and the Americans have collected, it's highly likely that North Korea will launch a missile," Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se of South Korea told a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday, adding that such a test would violate United Nations resolutions banning the country from testing ballistic missiles. "Such a possibility could materialize at any time from now."
The American and South Korean troops raised their "Watchcon" level of vigilance, stepping up monitoring and intelligence-gathering activities, officials at the South Korean Defense Ministry said.
Adding to the concerns, North Korea often stages military provocations around important national anniversaries, and Monday is the birthday of North Korea's founder, Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un.
Japan was also on guard for a potential North Korean missile launch, deploying PAC-3 missile interceptors in key locations around Tokyo as a precaution. The American military has moved two Navy missile-defense ships closer to the Korean Peninsula to monitor any North Korean missiles launchings and to intercept the missiles if they threaten the American bases or Washington's allies in the region.
There's still a chance for miscalculation or error, but even if they launch two missiles as some intelligence suggests, unless the missiles head for Japan, they are likely to continue their flight unmolested.
The good news is that once the missiles are launched and Kim announces a success - even if they aren't - the chances are fair that the worst will be over and North Korea will begin to climb down from war footing.
The question of how to repair the damage donw - abrogation of the armistice, no hot line between the militaries, closing of the joint factory project, damaged relations with China, and a heightened sense of mistrust.
The answer is not anytime soon.