A quick reminder that physically interfering with the DPRK rocket launch would be counterproductive to Western interests for a couple of reasons.
First, it is difficult to evaluate the technological sophistication of a military project if you shoot it down before you can study it. You can be
sure that there was a huge amount of telemetry and data collected from every intelligence platform available, all the easier to kill one for real if
the need arises.
Second, the DPRK is quite frankly volatile and unpredictable. Pyongyang has threatened to take any interference with the test launch as an act of war
and with some 30,000 KPA artillery rockets and field guns within 50 Km from Seoul nobody is interested in finding out how serious the threat really
Lastly, the West doesn't need to sabotage a rocket launch to make the DPRK "look bad", they do a fine job without our help. If it was proven that the
West had interfered ( U.S., Japan and ROK all have sophisticated ABM programs) it could serve to generate sympathy for the North Koreans and force a
protracted dialogue regarding North Korean space/ballistic missile program.
Of course, as the orbit degrades.... ?
On a related note, the MSM alarmist narrative suggesting the DPRK has proven an intercontinental nuclear capability with a quasi successful launch and
orbital insertion of Kim's sock drawer are exaggerated. Successfully detonating a fission weapon delivered to a mine shaft Wiley Coyote style ( via
hand pump rail car )and designing a warhead capable of being delivered via an ICBM are very different levels of technical sophistication.
The Unha/Taepodong-2 missile tested has a reported LEO throw weight of 100 kilos. As a reference point the highly refined U.S. standard W88 and W62
warheads both weigh around 350 kilo's with their reentry shrouds.
While the news is cause for concern, the KPA Strategic Rocket Forces wont be capable of projecting a legitimate intercontinental nuclear threat for a
few years yet ( if ever. The PRC is reportedly very PO'd )
Regardless, the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense ABM system is functional now and enough interceptors have been deployed to negate a limited threat.
What North Korea's Rocket
Launch Means — And What It Doesn't
While North Korea might have the reach, it still faces the problem of perfecting a nuclear warhead — a much larger obstacle than simply
exploding a nuclear device, which North Korea first accomplished in 2006.
"The North Koreans have demonstrated some of the capabilities they would need to have in order to develop an ICBM," Greg Thielmann, a senior fellow at
the Arms Control Association, tells NPR. "But that doesn't mean that they are ready to build one."
Warheads need to be relatively small, able to withstand the intense heat and vibration of re-entry, and land on — or at least near — their
"They are not there on the nuclear end and would have to have many more tests to have enough confidence that they have a reliable mode of delivery,"
says Jim Walsh, an expert in international security and a research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Security Studies Program.
"You need reliability. If you shoot one, you better be pretty confident it is not going to malfunction, hit your own territory and explode."
Thielmann agrees that producing a useful warhead is fraught with difficulty. "Based on the testing we've seen and some other assumptions about North
Korean abilities, we don't think they're ready to arm an ICBM with a nuclear warhead yet even if they had an ICBM, which they don't yet."
edit on 13-12-2012 by Drunkenparrot because: (no reason given)