Thoughts on the North Korean Rocket Test and Beyond
This test was apparently only partially successful. Two chunks landed, one near Japan, the other in mid-Pacific. Mid-Pacific is too close a splashdown for a two stage satellite launcher, from North Korea. See also "Third North Korean Nuclear Test" dated 2-15-13 above.
For those splashdown locations, there should have been a third stage to actually orbit a satellite. There may have been, but, if so, it apparently never separated from the second stage. (Their first test only flew a few seconds, so this was actually a big improvement.)
Regardless of what the politicians and pundits may tell you, any satellite launcher is an ICBM, and vice versa. Look at the history of the US civilian space program:
Three civilian-only rockets: Vanguard, Scout, and the larger Saturn-5 moon rocket (with the OSC Pegasus/Taurus and Spacex's Falcon series nearing fruition)
Seven ex-military combat rockets: the Redstone/Jupiter/Juno family, Atlas, Thor (now Delta), Titan, and the smaller Saturn-1.
Same for the Russians: the "R-7" rocket that launched Sputnik, and still launches their Soyuz, was also their first ICBM.
North Korea has already tested an A-bomb inside a cave, albeit unsuccessfully (more "bang" than just the high-explosive trigger, less than a full nuclear fission explosion). Once their satellite launcher works, and their A-bomb works, they can deliver a nuke anywhere on Earth.
North Korea can simply buy the fissionable materials to make the A-bombs, it's available entirely too easily on the world market. If you don't need too many weapons for your schemes, that is a feasible way to become nuclear-capable. We Americans are the ones they hate the most: so we really are their ultimate target, one way or another.
North Korea is (and has been for many decades) demonstrably unresponsive to economic sanctions. Their people are starving to death in the cold and the dark, to support a huge military establishment, plus a dictator and his high command living in luxury.
Dictator Kim Jong Il has been erratic at best in his decisions and policies. And, he is apparently now in ill health (many say he recently suffered a stroke). When he dies (and he will fairly soon, I think), his generals will take over, as a military junta.
These generals may be more rational in their dealings with us and the rest of the world, but they will still be foes, just as implacable as now. One should compare them to Kim Jong Il's father and predecessor, Kim Il Sung. He was the man who personally started the Korean War in June, 1950.
North Korea is not yet a threat just right now, but it soon will be, once the generals are running it, and their rocket and A-bomb work is completed. They will then start another war to unify Korea, and threaten us with nuclear attack to forestall intervention.
There is another similar threat, of much wider significance - Iran. They have already launched a satellite. That rocket can now be used as an ICBM to hit any place on Earth. All it needs is a warhead.
Iran is close to having production capability for its A-bomb. Peaceful-only nuclear power is a political fiction: the difference between reactor-grade and weapons-grade uranium is merely the number of passes through the same equipment.
One of Iran's goals is domination of the Greater Islamic World. They will wage war to do it, by proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah if possible, but if not, that's what the A-bombs are for. The only check on Iran's ambitions is Israel's A-bomb inventory, but only as long as Israel has them and Iran does not.
Iran's other goal is the abject humiliation of the oil-dependent West, especially America. They have made no secret of this. Once they have the A-bomb to put on their rocket, we can expect nuclear blackmail over oil.
Their proxies already decapitate captives with kitchen knives on live TV. To them, this is just killing on a larger scale.
"Cassandra has spoken".