News

    Some Experts Say Satellite or Not, N. Korea Is Thinking Weapons

    Astronomers and technical analysts say they will soon know whether what North Korea called a satellite launch was a success. Whether Pyongyang actually succeeds in putting a satellite into orbit, scientists say the North has taken a significant step forward in its ability to threaten neighbors other countries with missiles.

    The United States military refuted North Korea's assertion Sunday that it had launched a "communications satellite" into orbit.

    The U.S. Northern Command issued a statement saying "no object entered orbit and no debris fell on Japan." The satellite payload intended for space landed in the Pacific Ocean, say U.S. officers.

    South Korean media quote Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee as telling parliamentary leaders the satellite failed to reach space.

    North Korean media, however, portrayed the launch in different terms Sunday:

    A North Korean newsreader triumphantly announced the satellite is in orbit - transmitting revolutionary songs about leaders Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung.

    Joseph Bermudez is a leading world expert on North Korean rocketry for the British-based Jane's Defense Group. He says, regardless of the fate of the satellite, the first and second stages of Sunday's launch were noteworthy.

    "It demonstrates that they were successful in staging and ground control, guidance, and a number of other technical issues," he said.

    Bermudez says those first two stages of the launch will truly benefit the North Koreans, if they were able to capture all the real-time data the rocket produced moment-by-moment in its flight.

    "It will tell them exactly what was happening on the system as it launched, and whether their calculations are correct. About speed, altitude, pressure, the health of the system, how much fuel is being used," added Bermudez, "that sort of information."

    Ivan Oelrich, the Vice President of the Strategic Security Program at the Federation of American Scientists, says even if the satellite did not reach space, Sunday's launch is, in his words "a bad development." He says it is especially alarming in the context of Pyongyang's 2006 nuclear weapons test.

    "There's no one that seriously believes that North Korea is interested in a low earth orbit communications satellite," said Oelrich. "This is a way for them to test a long-range rocket that has military applications."

    Oelrich says North Korea does not need to develop its missile program to the same extent as more advanced countries, in order to benefit from it.

    "The North Koreans probably don't want it for a normal kind of military deployment. They want to have one or two of these - perhaps armed with nuclear weapons," he said. "At least they want the world to believe that, that they can use for political leverage in the future."

    Daniel Pinkston, a senior analyst in Seoul for the International Crisis Group, says with all the sacrifices impoverished North Korea has made for rocket technology, it has only one thing on its mind.

    "The expense to deliver an object at that distance, or to put together a missile, it's at an extraordinary cost," he said. "It makes no sense whatsoever to invest the effort, the energy, the resources into such a long-range delivery system unless it carries the destructive power of a nuclear weapon."

    Experts say the technical challenge of mounting a nuclear warhead on a missile and delivering it accurately remains well in the future for North Korea. However, they warn the time to be concerned about that future is now.


    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora