North Korea Missile Launch is Extortion Attempt
North Korea’s Unha-3 rocket at the Tongchang-ri space center on April 8, 2012. North Korea insists the rocket is intended to lift a satellite into orbit and is not an ICBM test. The usually secretive North Korea organized an unprecedented visit for foreign reporters to the Tongchang-ri space center in an effort to show that the Unha-3 rocket is not a disguised ballistic missile. The launch window for the rocket opens late today Washington time. (PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images)
April 11, 2012
| Security
| Asia and the Pacific
Mark Groombridge, deputy editor of and an expert on nonproliferation, said this week that North Korea’s planned missile test, which it claims is the launch of a satellite, is not only to commemorate the 100th birthday of the “great leader,” Kim Il Sung, but to demonstrate to the world that his grandson, 28-year-old Kim Jong Un, is firmly in control of the military. And it is also, says Groombridge, to keep up appearances – to maintain North Korea’s threatening posture and policy of global extortion to extract food aid and other assistance from the international community.

“It’s worked very, very well in the past, unfortunately, from my perspective,” said Groombridge. But this time, it’s having the opposite effect.


The United States recently announced, noted Groombridge, that it is withdrawing its promise of 240,000 tons of food aid for North Korea, citing the missile launch as the reason, even though it had initially said, when the deal was reached, that the food assistance was not tied to North Korea’s agreement to stop missile tests and cease some nuclear operations.

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