Mark the 4th of July on your calendars because that is when it is likely the North Koreans are going to provide some fireworks:
long-range ballistic missile toward Hawaii in early July, a Japanese news report said Thursday, as Russia and China urged the regime to return to international disarmament talks on its rogue nuclear program.may fire a
The missile, believed to be a Japan‘s top-selling newspaper. It cited an analysis by the Japanese Defense Ministry and intelligence gathered by U.S. reconnaissance satellites.with a range of up to 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers), would be launched from North Korea’s Dongchang-ni site on the northwestern coast, said the Yomiuri daily,
The missile launch could come between July 4 and 8, the paper said.
While the newspaper speculated the Taepodong-2 could fly over Japan and toward Hawaii, it said the missile would not be able to hit Hawaii’s main islands, which are about 4,500 miles (7,200 kilometers) from the Korean peninsula.
A spokesman for the Japanese Defense Ministry declined to comment on the report. South Korea’s Defense Ministry and the National Intelligence Service — the country’s main spy agency — said they could not confirm it.
Tension on the divided Korean peninsula has spiked since the North conducted its second nuclear test on May 25 in defiance of repeated international warnings. The regime declared Saturday it would bolster its nuclear programs and threatened war in protest of U.N. sanctions taken for the nuclear test.
U.S. officials have said the North has been preparing to fire a long-range missile capable of striking the western U.S. In Washington on Tuesday, Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it would take at least three to five years for North Korea to pose a real threat to the U.S. west coast. [Associated Press]
North Korea has a track history of conducting provocative events on American holidays such as the last nuclear test occurring over the Memorial Day weekend. So it is likely that this next missile test will be on the 4th of July weekend, which is something they did before 2006.
Here is a closer look at the facility courtesy of Google Earth:
There are actually two launch pads under construction at this facility. Here is the first one:
And here is the second one:
The fact there are two launch pads makes me wonder if in the future Kim Jong-il could further raise tensions by firing off two Taepodong’s at the same time?
With this missile test I would expect the North Koreans to try and fix the third stage problem they had with their last missile test back in April. Here is North Korean video of that test:
Here is video of the projected trajectory and break up of the Taepodong-2 missile test this past April:
If they can get that third stage problem fixed the North Koreans could possibly range Hawaii. There is no way they would actually hit Hawaii, but I am willing to be that if they could hit some where near Hawaii in order to show that they can in fact range the islands that is what they would try and do. The Pentagon has repeatedly said that they can shoot down this missile, which I have high confidence can be done. However, the real question is will they be allowed to shoot down the missile politically? I don’t see how any politician doesn’t order this missile shot down if comes any where near Hawaii, but I guess we will see if this fireworks show does in fact happen over the 4th of July holiday.
Further Reading: A Guide to North Korea’s Missiles