William Katz:  Urgent Agenda







THE THREAT – AT 9:33 A.M. ET:  Let us not avert our eyes, the mistake we've made too many times before in our history.

That North Korea rocket launch was significant.  Modern weaponry, tied to nuclear warheads, can give even a small, impoverished nation close to a checkmate power over the actions of much larger nations.  If North Korea, which can't even feed its own people, had even five ICBM's with nuclear warheads capable of hitting the west coast of the United States, it would certainly be an influence on what we can do in east Asia.  And North Korea and Iran shared missile and nuclear technology...

A good report, surprisingly from NPR:

U.S. officials say the satellite put into orbit by North Korea's rocket launch this week is wobbling, but that doesn't necessarily mean the launch itself was unsuccessful.

U.S. analysts say the North Koreans' main goal was not to put a satellite into orbit, but just to see all three stages of their rocket work, to show that the rocket could carry its payload a long distance. That it did. In the last test, in April, the first rocket stages worked as designed, but the third stage failed. Charles Vick, a missile expert at GlobalSecurity.org, credits the North Koreans with learning from their past mistakes.

"They have demonstrated not merely an ability to identify problems, but to resolve those problems and get the total system to work together, all three stages working as a single launch vehicle," he said.

So, the North Koreans are making progress.

Next question: What, if anything, did this launch mean for Iran?

We know North Korea and Iran have worked together in missile design. Vick says the evidence can be seen by comparing the North Korean Nodong missile with Iran's Shahab missile.

"In every detail, right down to the re-entry vehicles, Nodong-A is the Shahab-3," he says. "The technology is being transferred in both directions, and I think that's what's going on in the nuclear technology, too."

This cooperation may well have contributed to the success of this week's rocket launch.

Theodore Postol, a missile expert at MIT, says the third stage of the North Korean rocket launched this week looks like a comparable stage in a rocket designed by the Iranians.

"They were able to collaborate with equipment given to them or sent to them from North Korea, and at the same time do a lot of the research and engineering development needed to build this upper stage," Postol says.

What this means, Postol thinks, is that this week's North Korean rocket was actually a joint production between North Korean and Iranian engineers.

"While the North Koreans were working on the first stage, these guys were working on the third stage," he says. "So there's no doubt, looking at the technology, you don't need access to the intelligence information to see that these programs are very, very strongly collaborating."

COMMENT:  I'm sure the Obama administration is "studying" the matter.  Maybe we'll sanction the North Korean ping-pong-ball industry.  The bottom line is that North Korea and Iran are two of the most frightening nations in the world.  Iran, I think, is worse because it has a theocratic regime with thinking similar to that of the Japanese kamikaze of World War II.

Nothing we have done has stopped weapons development in either of these two countries.  Both now have long-range rockets.  North Korea has nuclear weapons, developed on our watch, when we were endlessly "negotiating" to stop them.  Iran's nuclear program is far along, and has not been stopped by any sanctions thus far.

And still, there isn't much serious concern among most Americans.  What will it take?  A nuclear 9-11?  A verified report that Iran has given nuclear weapons to Al Qaeda?

Some stories say that Obama will "take action" in 2013 if the Iranians don't end their nuclear-weapons program.  We've heard that before.  Many times.

December 14, 2012