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April 11th, 2012
05:49 PM ET

Letters to the President #1178: 'The North Korean launch'

Reporter's Note: The North Koreans are poised to launch a rather large missile with what they say is a weather satellite. A lot of folks have raised doubts about that claim, so I am launching some of their thoughts to President Obama in today’s letter.

Dear Mr. President,

Here’s an idea: Pick up one of those super secret, Head of State phones you have sitting around your office, have the operator connect you with the North Korean leader and say, “All right, pal, the cat is out of the bag. I know this ‘satellite’ launch is just a cover for developing a ballistic missile. Well, let me tell you…if you’ve got one, I’ve got a hundred, so think very carefully before you press that button.”

It can’t hurt, can it?

Suffice to say I (and every rocket scientist, spy, and weapons expert on the planet) have been watching the North Koreans very closely of late. The key question: Are they getting steadily closer to the day when they can loft a nuclear bomb into space and bring it crashing down on any perceived enemy…including us; or do they just want to know if it is going to rain tomorrow? The North Koreans have steadily insisted on the latter; saying this is just a weather satellite and nothing for everyone to get into a lather about. But considering that this satellite appears to be such a small, unimpressive model…about on par with Telstar, which we launched in 1962…it is hard to believe they’d spend this kind of money and resources without a bigger goal in mind.

As you know, I am usually inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt; to trust whatever it is they claim until I have proof otherwise; but I have to say not so much in this case. First of all, the North Koreans have a terrible track record on this front. They’ve focused so much energy on developing, exporting, and trading weapons with other nations it is hard to believe them when they suddenly profess such an interest in meteorology. Second, they have steadfastly ignored pretty much all the pressure from the international community in the past to stop their nuclear program, so there is little reason to expect them to do otherwise now. And third…well, when faced with a good or bad choice, it seems a safe bet to assume the North Korean government will always choose the bad one.

Anyway, I don’t suppose there is anything to do about it at the moment…but some thoughts to chew on when we see that rocker streak toward the sky as it no doubt soon will.

Regards,
Tom

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