Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Between April 4 and 8, the North Koreans intend to launch their longest range missile, the Taepodong 2 (TD-2) on a test into the Central Pacific. It is ostensibly a satellite shot, but is in reality a nearly full range test of the missile. The satellite ruse is being used to get around UN resolutions and the 2002 Pyongyang Declaration in which Kim Jong Il promised the Japanese not to test long range missiles in exchange for humanitarian aid. Based on the two danger zones published by the International Civil Aircraft Organization (ICAO) from information provided by North Korea, the projected flight path of the third stage will take it about 460 nautical miles (approx 850 km) south of Pearl Harbor. And the data from the launch will be shared between these two remaining Axis of Evil nations; Iran and North Korea. The test will also be a signal to Asian nations as far away as Taiwan, Thailand and the northern Philippines that they are within missile range of a new nuclear power with an unpredictable, irrational leader. Not a pleasant thought. Commercial satellite imagery from March 29 shows the missile fully assembled on the launch pad. The flight path will take the missile over northern Honshu, Japan’s main island. It will pass near the US operated TPY-2, X band tracking and target prediction radar at the Shariki sub base. The first stage will splash down just short of the Japanese mainland (Danger area 1) and the second about 2,100 nm downrange in Danger Area 2. A previous attempt to launch the TD-2 in 2006 ended in failure.