North Korea goes orbital

After no less than four unsuccessful attempts over the past few years, North Korea finally managed to launch an inter-continental ballistic… er, excuse me, an entirely peaceful orbital delivery system on Wednesday, to the considerable consternation of everyone it could have dropped on, and everyone who envisions such a missile dropping on them in the future.  Which, given the potential range of such a multi-stage rocket, is pretty much everyone on Earth, especially once cash-starved North Korea starts selling them to bad actors in every hemisphere.

The Unha-3 rocket was able to insert a little bundle of peace and love called the Kwangmyonsong satellite (Korean for “Big Effin’ Deal”) into orbit, where the Norks say it will peacefully and lovingly monitor weather patterns.  Coincidentally, North Korean nuclear warheads can monitor weather patterns, too.

No one outside of Pyongyang is pleased by these developments, including longtime North Korean patrons and backers such as Russia and China.  Of course, everyone inside Pyongyang is extremely pleased, and required to demonstrate their pleasure through singing and dancing, on pain of death.

ABC News notes that international efforts to pressure North Korea into feeding its starving population, instead of blowing titanic sums of money on nuclear weap… er, orbital weather monitoring technology, have not been going well:

The United States, South Korea and Japan are expected to seek tougher U.N. Security Council sanctions against North Korea for its launch. The Security Council will hold closed-door consultations on the launch Wednesday, according to the U.N. Mission for Morocco, which holds the rotating council presidency.

Existing sanctions ban North Korea from buying or selling materials used for nuclear and missile development. They also include a freeze on the assets of individuals and organizations involved in such development.

Japan has banned North Koreans from entering the country and stopped trade between the sides as part of its own sanctions against.

Six-nation negotiations on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program in exchange for aid fell apart in early 2009. A February deal for the United States to provide food aid in exchange for a freeze in nuclear and missile activities collapsed after the North’s April launch.

The outgoing South Korean administration’s “get-tough approach on Pyongyang over the past five years has been widely regarded as a failure,” according to ABC.  It doesn’t seem as if sanctions have a very good track record of stopping rogue regimes from developing their prized nuclear arsenal.  This is worth remembering when watching the mullahs of Iran, who have unquestionably suffered from international economic sanctions.  The big question remains whether such suffering will prove enough to halt the development of weapons of mass destruction.  Iran might not be quite as psychotic as North Korea, but the terrorized citizens of brutal dictatorships have generally demonstrated remarkable resistance to economic pressure.

Not to worry, because an angry United Nations has condemned the North Korean rocket launch, and trembles on the verge of sending its most trenchant Strongly Worded Letter.  And U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, calling the launch a “clear provocation” without going into details about just how provoked the Administration is feeling, assured CNN that he’s “‘very confident’ that if North Korea were to launch a missile at the United States, the U.S. military could guard against it.”

Really?  Because Panetta’s party spend the entirety of the 1980s howing in unison that such defenses are absolutely impossible.  And the people in charge of guarding us, at least for the next four years, are the ones who sent an ambassador into a terrorist hot spot with unarmed guards, then hallucinated a “spontaneous video protest” as the cause of his death.  Before that, they were boasting about their careful stewardship of democracy in Egypt.  Oh well, surely they’ll get something right, eventually.