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Smokin' Mirrors: North Korea displays bicep, other kids suitably impressed.

 article about Smokin Mirrors: North Korea displays bicep, other kids suitably impressed.
2006-07-06 07:26:43

North
Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has yet again stirred up the waters in the
Sea of Japan this week, firing not just one or two missiles into the
morning sky on Wednesday, but seven by the time the day was done.








In
a move that has been widely denounced by the international community,
the irony that the missiles were shot into the sky at roughly the same
time as the US space shuttle Discovery has not been lost on anyone.








While
six of the missiles were scuds and rodongs, one was said to be a
Taepodong 2 type, which has a range of up to 3500 km, said to be able
to reach the United States. However, the missile failed after
approximately 40 seconds of flight, landing in the Sea of Japan.








The
incident has seen Japan propose a resolution to the United Nations
Security Council, effectively banning North Korea from developing or
testing its missiles, as well as imposing instant sanctions against
Pyogyang. The only ship allowed to travel between the two countries, a
ferry called the Mangyongbong-92, has been stranded offshore since it
was ordered to halt its progress towards a Japanese port yesterday
morning. At the time of writing, all 193 passengers are still board,
the unwitting, floating pawns in a diplomatic game that looks like
having no clear solution.


North
Korea is heavily dependent upon trade with Japan, amounting to
approximately US$200 million dollars annually, not to mention the large
amount of money sent home by expatriats to their families. According to
Deborah Cameron, Japan Correspondent for Australia's Sydney Morning
Herald, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary, Shinzo Abe has advocated
taking economic measures against North Korea, even though the North
Koreans have warned this will be tantamount to a declaration of war.
"We will consider every type of sanction possible," said Abe.


As
history has shown with economic sanctions, they rarely have any effect
on those in power. The recipients of the funds coming through from
family members who reside in Japan will be the most effected by such a
move, and to an already impoversished population in North Korea, the
loss of trade could prove devastating.


The
South Koreans are calling for calm, suggesting that any inflammatory
action against the so-called ‘rogue state' will not help to solve the
already deepening divide. South Korea might be a different state, but
it is still intrinsically linked to North Korea, as was demonstrated by
the sharp dive on their stock exchange on Wednesday morning when news
of the launches hit.


On
Thursday morning the South Korean government convened a meeting to
discuss the missile launch, releasing a statement which said that they
expressed ‘profound regrets" over the incident.


"Despite
our repeated warnings, North Korea proceeded with this launch, which is
an unwise act to have a negative impact," they said. "It would not only
deepen North Korea's international isolation by bolstering the stance
of the hard-liners against the North in the international community but
also impede the peace and stability of Northeast Asia by providing
grounds for a [build-up] of armaments in the region as well as
adversely affecting the attitude of the South Koreans toward the North
in terms of inter-Korea relations."


The
six-party talks between the US, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and
North Korea over its nuclear arms program have been stalled since
November last year, when the isolated nation boycotted the talks that
were hoping to replace their nuclear arsenal for aid. The missile
incident has led to an almost unanimous call for North Korea to get
back to the negotiating table, with the US and Australia both urging
China to speak with Kim Jong-Il. It is largely believed that China had
an intrinsic role in getting North Korea to agree to the talks in the
first place.


"China
believes that the six party talks are the best way to resolve the
issue," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said,
according to the Bloomberg News outlet, at a regular press briefing in
Beijing on Thursday. "Diplomacy is the best solution to resolve this."


But
some believe that Beijing will not tolerate such provocative behaviour
from North Korea for too long. China's Vice Premier Hui Liangyu is
reportedly set to visit North Korea next week. As North Korea's largest
ally, there is a lot riding on what will be the highest-level talks
since May between the two countries, and many are hoping that China can
convince North Korea that diplomacy will have to prevail.






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