U.S. concerned about long term implications of N. Korean missile launch

Denny Roy
Denny Roy

By Leland Kim - bio | email

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KHNL) - Federal and state officials are on standby Friday as North Korea gets ready to launch a missile into space. Defense officials believe it's a rocket carrying a satellite into orbit, but they're concerned about long term implications.

Defense officials say the long range missile North Korea is planning to launch could be used in a different manner, in a way that could threaten the region.

This is the long range missile north korea is planning to shoot off in the next few days. The Taepodong II's mission this time is to launch a satellite, but U.S. defense officials, who spoke to KHNL/K5 on the condition of anonymity, are concerned this could lead to major security issues.

North Korea expert Denny Roy says communication between the two countries has broken down over the years.

"North Korea is also very frustrated with the United States, that the process that the North Koreans hope would lead to recognition and a relationship with the United States, has broken down," said Roy, who is a senior fellow with the East-West Center in Manoa. "Just as the Americans are frustrated with the lack of progress in verification of the dismantling of the North Korean nuclear program."

Defense officials say they're concerned on two levels: because missile technology is interchangeable, North Korea could theoretically attach a nuclear head to one of its rockets and shoot it at a target. The U.S. is also worried North Korea could proliferate, or sell or share, the missile technology with other nations.

This is what the U.S., Japan and South Korea are most concerned about: the long term effects, and the possible instability it would bring to other parts of the world. Kim Jong-il has the world's attention, and, some say, that's exactly how he wants it.

"It has more to do with, I think, posturing for a stronger bargaining position with the United States and South Korea, when those negotiations resume," said Roy.

Again, federal and state officials say there doesn't appear to be any immediate threat to Hawaii or anywhere else, but they're concerned about long term implications. State Civil Defense will have personnel on standby this weekend.