Friday, June 19, 2009

North Korea: U.S. Tracking Weapons Ship and Setting Up Missile Defense

The Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea is testing the waters of international sanctions as it sends forth a possible weapons carrying ship and also is reported to be preparing a long range missile firing to the central Pacific. The U.S. military is tracking and setting up missile defense systems in Hawaii, which - in case you forgot, is located out there in the Pacific Ocean.

With respect to the weapons ship, apparently the plan is to politely ask to board the ship and when rejected, turn to Plan B or C. One of those plans involves going to the U.N. and whining or getting more resolutions to wave in the NORK direction.

As for the missile launch, the theory seems to be to be prepared in case the thing actually works better than anticipated. Shooting it down in boost phase might be an option though no one on the allied side seems to want to do anything that might trigger artillery shells raining down on Seoul. So, that leaves the wait and see option.

Most of this, without my thoughts, is reported here:
The U.S. military is tracking a North Korean ship that is thought to be carrying prohibited weapons, the first test of sanctions approved by the U.N. Security Council in response to last month's nuclear test and missile launches by the belligerent communist state.
But a senior Pentagon official confirmed that the U.S. is monitoring the North Korean ship Kang Nam, which it suspects is carrying weapons that the United Nations prohibits the North from exporting.

Mr. Gates also said he had sent a mobile missile defense system to Hawaii amid reports that the North is preparing another test of its long-range multistage rocket, the Taepodong 2. Its last test in April flopped.

The U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, is designed to shoot down ballistic missiles in the final stages of their descent.

"We are in a good position, should it become necessary, to protect Americans and American territory," Mr. Gates said.

The U.S. Navy has been tracking the ship since it left a North Korean port on Wednesday, and will attempt to hail the ship and seek permission to board for inspection, the official said on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic.

"The U.N. resolution does not include an option for an opposed boarding or a noncompliant boarding," Adm. Mullen said. "If we get to that point with a vessel we suspect has material which is unauthorized -- that's a report that goes back to the U.N."

Security Council sanctions approved June 12 sharply restrict North Korea's arms trade and authorize U.N. members to stop, inspect, seize and destroy prohibited items. The measure followed nuclear and missile tests by the North.

If the Kang Nam refuses to be boarded and inspected, the U.S. plans to track the vessel and press the country at its first port call to enforce the U.N. sanctions.

North Korea has said forced inspections on the high seas would be an act of war.
I guess THAAD is not one of the missile defense systems that Mr. Obama was referring to when he said, "I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems."

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