Jeffrey LewisLong Range Missiles Of Any Kind

I have previously noted the importance of reading very, very closely the utterances of the Great Fitzpatrick.

Another case in point: On March 15, Mark gave a talk at the Daiwa Foundation Japan House in which he “predicted trouble” over the DPRK moratorium on long-range missiles launches “because North Korea does not consider space-launch rockets to be missiles.”

Of course, today, I awake to learn that KCNA has announced the DPRK will launch a “space launch” vehicle on Kim Il Sung’s birthday.

I will spare you the back and forth on whether there is any meaningful difference between a missile and a “space launch” vehicle –Mark does a wonderful job of summarizing the minute details in a blog post at the IISS Voices site. The short version is that there is no important difference from a testing standpoint. A moratorium on missile launches that includes an exception for space launches is like a moratorium on nuclear testing that permits “peaceful nuclear explosions” — pointless.

1.

Should the Obama Administration have seen this coming? If Fitzpatrick could, why didn’t the State Department ?  Why, by the way, doesn’t Fitzpatrick have a job in this Administration?

I’d like to hold off judgement on a thing like this, as someone once said, until all the facts are in.  But it appears this was a pretty serious foul up.

When the US and DPRK issued statements about the resumption of talks, their competing statements of what had been agreed differed in some interesting ways.  Both statements, however, used identical language relating to the moratorium: “The DPRK has agreed to implement a moratorium on long-range missile launches.”  (That’s the US version, but the DRPK version translates as “The DPRK… agreed to a moratorium on … long-range missile launches.”)

I went back to look at the how the Clinton Administration handled the issue of space launches during North Korea’s 1999-2003 moratorium, embodied in the 2000 Joint Communique.  And there it was: “long-range missile launches of any kind.”  [Emphasis added.]  The details matter!

2.

The interesting thing about the 1999-2003 moratorium was that it evolved.  North Korea made a private pledge in 1999 that eventually became a written commitment in the form of the  2000 Joint Communique.

In September 1999, the DPRK privately committed to a moratorium of one sort or another. North Korea then publicly announced, ” It will not launch a missile while the talks are under way…” The Clinton Administration then attempted to secure that pledge in an agreed statement.  Unfortunately, the few accounts of the missile negotiations — by Albright, Samore and Sherman (well, a long account by Michael Gordon quoting Sherman)– focus on the Albright visit to Pyongyang, which followed the 2000 Joint Communique.

Still, the evolution of “missile” into “long-range missile of any kind” is tantalizing evidence of intensive discussions about scope.  I observe that US officials usually used the entire phrase in written documents.  It seems clear that it meant something.

Without access to the negotiating record, it is impossible to conclude that “of any kind” referred to precisely the problem we face now, but that seems like a good bet. Regardless, why omit it now?  Certainly, departing from the previous language should have thrown up red flags.  I have to ask: Did the relevant officials not examine the original moratorium? Wouldn’t they have become suspicious if the North Koreans had objected to adding “of any kind”?

State Department Spokesperson Toria Nuland released a statement today that is not encouraging — she appeals to the UN Security Council Resolution as opposed to the agreed language.  That’s going to get you far.  What the hell?  Wendy Sherman, Gary Samore and Bob Einhorn are all senior US officials who were deeply involved in the details of this in 1999-2000.  I am just baffled.

Sigh.  So, what to do?  We gave the North Koreans a loophole large enough to fly a Taepodong through and they took it. (Or at least announced their intent to take it.) The North Koreans have really made a mess here: If the Administration admits it made a mistake (fat chance), its political opponents will use that admission as a cudgel against any future agreement its negotiates anywhere in the world.  On the other hand, if the Administration blames North Korea for walking away from an agreement after a few days, then the Administration will get killed in Congress over any future deal.

4.

By the way, I observe that Kim Jong Un has made some very interesting visits of late, including to the Strategic Rocket Forces Command.  If I am not mistaken, that would be the first mention of this particular organization.  This is my chance to plug the excellent, North Korean Leadership Watch.

Some of the pictures are priceless, especially if you know the Kim Jong Un-cake meme.

Also priceless are the description of the location of the command, as well as the exterior shots. I bet I can find this place.

Late Update | 9:40 pm PST 16 March 2012 In a press briefing today, Toria Nuland claims that the United States “made clear unequivocally that we considered that any satellite launch would be a deal-breaker.” Of course, a US diplomat can “make clear” the US position in a negotiation without securing the agreement of the other party.

Here is the relevant graf:

MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, in the context of working on the Leap Day agreement, we made clear unequivocally that we considered that any satellite launch would be a deal-breaker. So on the front end, they understood that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. NULAND: We were called yesterday. We were contacted through the New York channel and advised late in the afternoon yesterday that they were likely to move forward with this. Obviously, the individual who took that message was uninstructed at that time, but made very clear what he considered the implications of this to be. And then just a few hours afterwards, the statement was released by the North Korean news service, which was why we felt we had to respond almost immediately. Hence the notification you got at 4 o’clock in the morning.

So from our perspective, there shouldn’t have been any doubt in the North Koreans’ mind before this what the implications will be if they go forward.

I am still waiting to hear someone from the Obama Administration say “North Korea accepted our position that space launches are a kind of long-range missile launch.”

Comments

  1. Allen Thomson (History)

    > “because North Korea does not consider space-launch rockets to be missiles”

    I ask because I don’t know: Does anybody or any treaty consider all or some SLVs to be missiles? Are Atlas 5, Delta 4, Minotaur, Soyuz, Proton, Rokot, Ariane 5, etc., etc., counted as missiles under any circumstances? Certainly some of those are missile-derived and in some cases aren’t all that far away from their roots.

    BTW and maybe of more current relevance, the Korean announcement implies that they’re going to use the new, large west coast launch pad. And, since they’re going for a polar orbit, they’ll overfly the Philippines, Australia and maybe other places.

    • rwendland (History)

      The Philippines is about 2800 km away, rather more than the 1100 km to Japan. Even with Japan, the altitude was well over 100 km by then.

      When Israel launches, rockets have to go over land by 2300 km (Tunisia) or earlier. I’ve never noticed complaints about this. (Unless some pretty significant, and unlikely, manoeuvres down the Med are done.)

    • joshua (History)

      Israel is a good point of comparison, but an even better one would be South Korea, which also launches to the south.

  2. rwendland (History)

    Is “long-range missile launches of any kind” really any clearer? If you want to ban space launches, why not say it.

    I presume the difficulty in that is the clash with the Outer Space Treaty article 1 wording “Outer space … shall be free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination of any kind, on a basis of equality …”. Both US and DPRK are parties to the Outer Space Treaty.

    • kme (History)

      I don’t think the clash would matter, the DPRK would be voluntarily agreeing to a moratorium on activities allowed to it by the OST.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      Perhaps.

      The US and DPRK in 1999 and 2000 were negotiating for the DPRK’s adherence to the MTCR among other outcomes. Although part of the negotiation concerned the final scope of any agreement, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in addition to the Joint Communique, there were letters or side notes that established “long range” as referring to specific missile systems and any rockets that fall under the MTCR criteria.

      If that’s correct and range was the primary criteria, “of any kind” would prohibit any other distinction such as with respect to purpose.

      Without side letters or negotiating history, then it’s not a great phrase — it would be best to use the MTCR definition. But I suspect there was some sort of documentation which is why the Clinton Administration was so careful to always include it.

    • rwendland (History)

      I’ve just noticed KCNA reported the release of a NK white paper “Space Is Common Wealth of Humankind” just over 3 months ago. You’re right Jeffrey that State should have seen this coming.

      http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201111/news29/20111129-04ee.html

      That white paper, and other KCNA articles around the 2009 launch, refer to the Outer Space Treaty to counter UNSC claims. So whatever may have been discussed around 2000, it was clear that no longer held in NK by 2009.

      NB I wonder if any State will ask to view the launch under Outer Space Treaty Article X? Did an ambassadors get to view the last launch?

    • mamdali (History)

      Adding ‘any kind’ doesn’t really solve the problem. The original semantic “moratorium on long range missiles” is sufficient and all encompassing. Looking at it differently, once one starts modifying an all encompassing statement it actually opens it up to more interpretation and larger loopholes. Example: “…moratorium on missiles… of any kind… that are not for space launches.”

      At the end, the spirit of an agreement can’t be enforced unless the both parties really agree to it regardless of the legal mumbo jumbo. In this case, it is clear DPRK has a different understanding of the agreement.

  3. Cthippo (History)

    A third option would be to congratulate North Korea on their (presumably) successful peaceful scientific space flight and ignore the missile test implications. The reality is that we can’t stop them from launching, and as Jeffery pointed out, any other response will have negative domestic consequences.

    This approach can be justified on several levels. First off, a NK space launch isn’t directly threatening anyone and so unless we’re opposed to everything they do, let them have their success. We can afford to save our ire for the really obnoxious things they do. Secondly, we’re probably not the intended audience, but rather this launch is part of Kim Jong-Un’s succession process. Finally, as others have pointed out, this isn’t the standard applied to any other nation and setting double standards for so-called rogue nations hasn’t exactly helped out credibility.

    Short version, pick your battles.

  4. Mark Lincoln (History)

    It appears that the issue is one of semantics.

    Did the DPRK renounce the test of military rockets, satellite launch vehicles, or both.

    It seems that the ‘operant’ condition is dependent upon political interpretation instead of realistic interpretation.

    Those who wish to portray the Obama administration in the worst possible light are compelled to interpret the DPRK as both having renounced ALL missile launches AND having reneged upon that commitment.

    A position which seems more driven by the need to denounce the Obama administration, and the North Koreans, than any desire to evaluate the difference between a satellite and a thermonuclear weapon.

  5. Allen Thomson (History)

    A random thought, but I won’t be terribly surprised if the US hustles an AN/TPY-2 radar to North West Cape, Australia to gather technical intelligence on whatever the DPRK launches and to send a message.

    (I’m reasonably sure that a major reason the US has been talking with Australia about putting a space surveillance radar at NWC is precisely that it’s a good place to get first-orbit looks at polar launches from the DPRK and the new Chinese site on Hainan Island.)

  6. Allen Thomson (History)

    ACW experts take note:

    http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2012/03/17/0401000000AEN20120317001200315.HTML

    2012/03/17 22:01 KST

    N. Korea says will invite foreign experts to observe satellite launch

    SEOUL, March 17 (Yonhap) — North Korea said Saturday it will invite a group of foreign experts and journalists to observe its launch of earth observation satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 next month.

    “The Korean Committee for Space Technology will invite experienced foreign experts on space science and technology and journalists to visit the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, the General Satellite Control and Command Center and other places and observe its launch,” the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a brief dispatch from Pyongyang.

    • anon (History)

      Later on in the Briefing Nuland was asked to clarify whether a satellite launch would kill the Leap Day agreement or whether the announcement was enough to do that:

      QUESTION: I’m sorry if this sounds redundant, but given the significance of this missile launch issue, how would you describe the status of the February 29th agreement?

      MS. NULAND: I think I’ve spoken to that already. That we – the concern — all the partners now are trying to encourage the DPRK not to do this, to understand that we would consider it an abrogation. They haven’t done it yet; they’ve just said they’re going to do it. But it’s not a good sign.

  7. joel wit (History)

    Jeffrey: I think we are really looking at a tree and losing sight of the forest here.

    Anyone could find differences in language in the statements that opened all sorts of possibilities for mischief, not just on the missile front. And on missiles, if it wasnt this issue, it might have been “range” of a long-range missile as well. The key point here is they were unilateral statements, not an agreed joint statement where language is worked out through negotiations.

    So the question is why didnt we work out an agreed statement? I don’t know in this case. Maybe we should have taken the time to do that. But my past experience has been that South Korea doesnt like US-DPRK joint documents and if that was the case it put us in a difficult position.

    Second, I am willing to bet my bottom dollar that the US negotiators didnt just tell the North Koreans about their interpretation of what the agreement on a moratorium meant. The North Koreans acknowledged that and certainly understood it. There is no doubt in my mind.

    Third, what purpose does it serve for the North Koreans to reach this agreement and then quickly exploit a “loophole.” None whatsoever. They could have just gone forward with whatever they planned to do. So the real issue here is what does it say about the political transition now taking place in the dprk. Is there something not quite right with the decision-making process?

    Last, the important question is what do we do now? Maybe its just hopeless but what is in store is a missile test, new sanctions and a nuclear test which if only moderately successful, will trigger an announcement by the dprk that it can mount warheads on missiles. Not a good outcome.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      Well, we can agree with the suckiness of the outcome.

      As to why the DPRK might exploit a loophole, it’s easy to explain — negotiators are human beings. They often have conflicting, even impossible, instructions that they must interpret. Sometimes they even ignore them or fail to correctly convey them back home. And, of course, they make mistakes.

      Of course, it is also possible that the DPRK leadership simply miscalculated and tried to take too big a slice of salami, but it is at least equally plausible that the US side either failed to make clear that this was a deal-breaker, Nuland’s assertion to the contrary notwithstanding, or misinterpreted the DPRK response as consent.

    • anon (History)

      According to spokesperson Toria Nuland at yesterday’s State Department Daily Press Briefing (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2012/03/185935.htm), the North Korean satellite launch announcement is an “abrogation” of the leap day agreement, and U.S. negotiators warned warned the North Koreans that it would be:

      MS. NULAND:

      […]

      So our concern about this, as you know, coming so quickly after the Leap Day agreement for a moratorium and IAEA-style inspections or IAEA inspections is that this calls into question whether, when the DPRK entered into that agreement with us, they did so in good faith, because at the time we did warn them that we considered that a satellite launch of this kind would be an abrogation of that agreement.

      […]

      QUESTION: Just to follow on enlisting (inaudible), is that you said this launching will be in violation to the [Security Council] resolution. But is it correct to consider this as in violation to the U.S.-DPRK agreement you made on February 29th?

      MS. NULAND: It would certainly constitute an abrogation of the agreement, yes.

    • anon (History)

      I meant for this to appear in response to Joel Wit:

      Later on in the Briefing Nuland was asked to clarify whether a satellite launch would kill the Leap Day agreement or whether the announcement was enough to do that:

      QUESTION: I’m sorry if this sounds redundant, but given the significance of this missile launch issue, how would you describe the status of the February 29th agreement?

      MS. NULAND: I think I’ve spoken to that already. That we – the concern — all the partners now are trying to encourage the DPRK not to do this, to understand that we would consider it an abrogation. They haven’t done it yet; they’ve just said they’re going to do it. But it’s not a good sign.

  8. Bruno (History)

    I am as suprised as you on the naiveness of the US’ negotiators. In fact I am so surprised that I cannot believe they did not at least made it clear to DPRK that any launch would make the agreement void.
    As for the capacity to follow the test with surveillance radar, one has to hope that the SBX is around.

    • Allen Thomson (History)

      >As for the capacity to follow the test with surveillance radar, one has to hope that the SBX is around.

      SBX has just returned to Hawaii where, apparently, it’s going to remain in semi-retirement for several years. AN/TPY-2 is supposed to take up its functions in ways that are not yet entirely clear.

    • Allen Thomson (History)

      > SBX has just returned to Hawaii

      If anybody is in a position to check out Pearl Harbor visually, it might be worthwhile to verify that. There was a news item saying SBX was supposed to return to Hawaii last Thursday, and indeed an AIS site (marinetraffic.com/ais/) showed the support vessel M/V Dove but not SBX at Ford Island yesterday, March 17. Today, however, neither vessel shows up. Maybe they just turned off the AIS transmitters, but I guess it isn’t impossible that SBX was ordered to get in position to see the NK launch — at 10 knots it could make the transit in time.

  9. Johnboy (History)

    Jeff: “So, what to do? We gave the North Koreans a loophole large enough to fly a Taepodong through and they took it.”

    Well, there is a shit-sandwhich sitting there that must be eaten, and any politician worth the name will sit down in front of the cameras and eat it with a smile, and all the time claiming that
    (a) it’s delicious and
    (b) it’s actually his own recipe.

    The last thing he would do is storm around while cursing his opponent for delivering up that steaming pile of bread.

    “The North Koreans have really made a mess here:”

    Noooo, they have handed the Administration a shit-sandwhich, precisely because the Obamists *agreed* (this is an agreement, is it not?) to the removal of a phrase what had hitherto prevented the serving up of that delicacy.

    You can’t blame the North Koreans for the incompetence of the American negotiators.

    The best outcome for this Administration is to insist that it was always their intention that the North Koreans be encouraged to beat their missile-based swords into rocket-launching plowshares, as a way of
    (a) keeping them busy with “peacefull stuff”, while
    (b) building up mutual trust betweem the two parties.

    And smile while he’s saying it.
    After all, it was his own recipe.

  10. Philipp (History)

    Why beat up on the administration without further evidence? For all we know, the US negotiators asked for the “of any kind” clause, the North Koreans said no, the Americans said “okay, as long as you understand that by ‘missile launches’ we mean any launches, including space launches,” the North Koreans said, “got it.” As you point out, it’s not so much the words “of any kind” that matter as it is any side agreements/understandings, and Nuland suggests our negotiators told the Norks as much. What am I missing?

    • Jeffrey (History)

      They have yet to say “the DPRK agreed” – saying “we told them” is not the same thing.

      After the Brazil-Turkey deal with Iran, I see no reason to believe that US officials always tell the truth about the content of negotiations, especially when they wish to avoid looking foolish.

  11. John (History)

    Listen. Thanks for censoring my earlier comment instead of responding to it.

    The point is that if you want NK to stop launching SLVs/ICBMs you have to give them CARROTs. There is noting in international law stopping them from doing what they are doing. Same goes for Iran.

    Carrots. No-one asked the UN to come up with the OST.

    As M. Krepon said in his post below yours: “The problem is feckless arms controllers co-opted by the government-industry-foundation nonproliferation complex to do the bidding of neo-conservative warmongers.”

    Wars and threats and sanctions are illegal and ineffective. Carrots can get you there from here.

    This article will walk you through the systemic issues:

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n04/campbell-craig/whos-in-whos-out/print

    • sekant (History)

      “There is noting in international law stopping them from doing what they are doing.”

      Only if you consider that UN security council resolutions, taken under chapter VII, are not binding when it comes to the RPDC.

      Resolution 1718 contained a loophole in that it demands that the RPDC does not conduct any launch of balistic missiles (the RPDC arguing that a SLV is not a balistic missile) which was closed by resolution 1874 which demands that the RPDC does not conduct any launch using balistic missile technology.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      From here on out, I am not approving any more comments that that make some stupid “why can’t the DPRK if the US …” claim.

      This is not a thread to debate the fundamental legitimacy of nonproliferation efforts. Go someplace else if you want to have that conversation.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      Oh, more carrots. That never occurred to anyone before. I am so relieved to learn that this isn’t a complex problem that reflects cultural, ideological, historical and organizational differences that seem to drive the parties toward confrontation over a sixty year period.

      We’re just one carrot short. Thanks for clearing that up. What’s the carrot, by the way?

    • Johnboy (History)

      Jeffrey: “This is not a thread to debate the fundamental legitimacy of nonproliferation efforts. Go someplace else if you want to have that conversation.”

      I am honestly at a loss to understand what conversation you *do* want in this thread.

      I *thought* it was this:
      Jeffrey: “Sigh. So, what to do? We gave the North Koreans a loophole large enough to fly a Taepodong through and they took it.”

      If that is the conversation you want then you are getting narky because you don’t want to hear the answer i.e. The USA Should Do Nothing.

      The USA left open a loophole, and the North Koreans took advantage of it.

      Heck, if this Obama administration wants to do something about that then I would suggest it should sack a few of the USA negotiators.

      After all, it was their fault.

    • Johnboy (History)

      Jeff: “We’re just one carrot short. Thanks for clearing that up. What’s the carrot, by the way?”

      How about this: We will congratulate you on your successful “peaceful” launch if you will congratulate Obama on his deep and meaningful understanding of the difference between a space launch program and a ballistic missile program.

      That turns a “flaw” into a “feature”, getting both the Koreans and the Americans off the hook.

      It’s called “scratching each other’s back”, and while I have no idea how that translates into Korean I’m pretty certain they can grasp the concept.

      And once you get the two sides scratching each other’s backs, well, you are well on the way towards “dialog”.

      A step forward, surely.

    • Johnboy (History)

      “Only if you consider that UN security council resolutions, taken under chapter VII, are not binding when it comes to the RPDC.”

      The UN is not a world government.
      The UNSC is not a legislative body.

      It therefore stands to reason that a UNSC Resolution can not make “illegal” something that the North Koreans are legally entitled to do.

      UNSC Resolutions are political decisions handed from From Up On High to its member states, and such decisions can no more make a North Korean missile program “illegal” than it can pass a resolution making it “illegal” for North Koreans to wear Red Underpants.

      Or, put another way: there is no international law that says that the North Koreans can not launch rockets/missiles/whatever.

      There is, however, a POLITICAL decision made by the UNSC that demands that the RPDC cease and desist, and if the RPSC refuses to obey that decision then the international law that it is violating is this: Article 25 of the UN Charter.

      But what North Korea won’t be violating is any international law that says You Can Not Launch Missiles, precisely because There Is No Such Law.

  12. Daniel (History)

    So it looks like the administration at least now realizes what’s going on, given the Nuland update. But you’re right, it looks like they’re keeping things relatively quiet. Whether it was a slip-up simply on the NY diplomat’s part (either his fault or from conflicting instructions) or a larger mistake on the part of Sherman, Samore, and Einhorn is hard to say (at least for me). In any case, what do you do as an outside observer, when you see loopholes that the relevant authorities might have legitimately overlooked?

  13. Ian (History)

    This thread assumes a mistake, but another possibility is that the US explicitly took an agreement on nuclear enrichment at the implicit cost of either no agreement or an agreement that did not include missiles.

    If the calculus is that having inspectors in NK will mean that NK wont test a nuclear weapon during the tentative phase of the transition or engage in provocative military action, then this could possibly be justified. It is also conceivable that Kim Jong Un could sign up to no more without losing credibility.

    That said, language today from the administration suggests that the US would cancel the whole deal if a missile test goes ahead, possibly cancelling out what I suggest above.

  14. John (History)

    Bribery is likely the right answer here. Bribe some more — chicken nuggets are cheap and NK are fearful and paranoid and poor.

    I’ll write a book on the criteria when I have some time.

  15. John (History)

    Bribery is likely the right answer here.

    Bribe some more — chicken nuggets are cheap and NK are fearful and paranoid and poor.

    I’ll write a book on the criteria when I have some time.

    I believe I am right because that is also what US negotiators just did — we just need a bit more bribery.

    Plus, what alternative is there? More sanctions? Write a letter to the UN?

    In the final measure, if you are asking a sovereign country to forego something it is entitled to, you must bribe them, tolerate them, or make war.

  16. Anon (History)

    Bribery is likely the right answer here.

    Bribe some more — As John says — chicken nuggets are cheap and NK are fearful and paranoid and poor.

    I believe John is right because that is also what US negotiators just did — we just need a bit more bribery.

    Plus, what alternative is there? More sanctions? Write a letter to the UN?

    In the final measure, if you are asking a sovereign country to forego something it is entitled to, you must bribe them to stop, tolerate them, or make war.

    • David Clark (History)

      FSB, is there any way we can help you with your posting? Would you please consider:

      1) Posting one response, not several identical ones?
      2) Posting as a reply to the person you’re addressing, not as a new, upper level comment?
      3) Posting under one username? You’ve posted under five different identities in the last few topics, some of which reply to other posts you’ve made. It’s making it hard to follow the conversation.

  17. Ara Barsamian (History)

    There is no difference between an ICBM and SLV. Some of you might remember the Atlas ICBM where we replaced the thermonuclear warhead with the Friendship 7 after the Soviet Union did the same with their SS-7 and Gagarin.

    The danger with “bribing” is that it can backfire, like it did when England and France thought they bought “Peace in Our Time” with Hitler by ceding the Sudetenland.

    DPRK is like a cancer (having started the war in 1950, and all the subsequent terrorism and blackmail), and “we” are not willing to cut it away, and eventually there is going to be a price to pay…

  18. rwendland (History)

    David Wright has a map of the splashdown zones:

    http://allthingsnuclear.org/post/19732600512/north-korea-announces-splashdown-zones-for-launch

    The edge of the stage 1 splashdown zone seems roughly around 55 nmi off the South Korean mainland, and stage 2 splashdown zone seems roughly 65 nmi off the Philippines mainland.

    Seems quite a squeeze to avoid land. The Unha-2 stage 2 splashdown range of 3800 km would have been in the Philippines, but David Wright speculates a heavier third stage for a polar orbit launch shortens the splashdown distances.

  19. rwendland (History)

    (repost of comment the blogging software weirdly placed well above, before a March 16 comment! Why?)

    David Wright has a map of the splashdown zones:

    http://allthingsnuclear.org/post/19732600512/north-korea-announces-splashdown-zones-for-launch

    The edge of the stage 1 splashdown zone seems roughly around 55 nmi off the South Korean mainland, and stage 2 splashdown zone seems roughly 65 nmi off the Philippines mainland.

    Seems quite a squeeze to avoid land. The Unha-2 stage 2 splashdown range of 3800 km would have been in the Philippines, but David Wright speculates a heavier third stage for a polar orbit launch shortens the splashdown distances.

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