NoKo's Dear Leader dying of cancer

Rumored to be in ill health for months, North Korea's President Kim Jong Il is reported to be very ill with pancreatic cancer according to a South Korean TV station:

This Reuters report fleshes out the details that were gathered by Chinese and South Korean intelligence:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has pancreatic cancer and the illness is life-threatening, South Korean broadcaster YTN said on Monday based on information gathered by Chinese and South Korean intelligence sources. Kim's health is one of the most closely guarded secrets in the reclusive communist state. Kim, 67, was widely thought to have suffered a stroke last year, but there has never been official confirmation.

Kim looked gaunt during a public appearance last Wednesday at a memorial for his father and state founder Kim Il-sung.

Kim's health raises questions about succession in Asia's only communist dynasty and who will control its nuclear weapons programs.

The North conducted its second nuclear test on May 25, which was met by U.N. sanctions aimed at cutting off the impoverished state's lucrative arms trade and one of its few sources of hard cash.

South Korean officials have said the North's recent military grandstanding that also included missiles launches and threats to attack the South is linked to efforts to pave the way for Kim's youngest son to take over.

It is thought that Kim's son, Kim Jong-Un is being groomed to take over once Dear Leader ascends into heaven. This Reuter's piece by Dean Yates looks at the possibilities in post-Kim Jong Il North Korea with some of the scenarios - military takeover or economic collapse - being downright frightening.

The bottom line: If Kim Jong Il can hang on for a couple of years, the transition to his son may go smoothly. But all bets are off if Kim the elder kicks off in the near future:

The New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, in a report in January called "Preparing for Sudden Change in North Korea," said a military coup was possible.

"Unconfirmed reports of past assassination attempts and military purges, not to mention the apparent precautions Kim takes to ensure his personal security when traveling around the country, all suggest that a military-led coup is quite plausible," the report said.

Western media has noted a couple of these presumed assassination attempts including the blowing up of a train station just minutes after Kim had departed.

Obama, meanwhile, thinks that if we can stop Iran's nuke program there would be no need for a missile defense system. Given the coming instability in North Korea, that sounds like something only a novice in foriegn policy would say.