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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Does N. Korea Even Have a Missile?

(Keywords & tags: , , , maybe doesn't have a after all...)

The N. Korean missile threat may have turned out to be a bust. reports that we've all been victims of a hoax. News of a non-existent DPRK test of a two-stage ICBM may have caused the US to fire up its equally non-existent missile defense system. Says Defense Tech:

But cracks in the story appeared almost immediately. No one could really say what this Taepodong-2 really looked like, or what it could do. Responsible reporters recalled North Korea's history of saber-rattling stunts -- and its anemic track record for testing missiles.

And then there was the fuel and oxidizer supposedly being loaded into the missile. Corrosive stuff, it could eat through a missile's metal casing in two or three days. Which meant that the Norks had to launch quickly, or not at all. With every day this missile "crisis" dragged on, the less likely it became.

Now ten days later, the missile would be melting on the pad. If true, I wonder if the administration would admit the missile doesn't exist. I doubt it. The New York Times printed a kinda-sorta story about the non-existence of the DPRK ICBM, but with a title like, Senator Says North Korean Missile Firing May Not Be Imminent, it hardly fully debunks the missile story. According to the Times:

On Monday and Tuesday, two officials said the intelligence could, at best, be interpreted as offering only a prudent assumption that the missile was fueled, and that intelligence analysts had described an already fueled missile as a worst-case scenario.

"It is impossible to know for certain whether or how much fuel is moving between a closed container through a closed line to another closed container," one official said.

Citing intelligence gathered by "overhead systems" photographing the missile, Senator Warner said, "We are not certain if it's fueled."

He also said the surveillance images indicated that "certain infrastructure" remained around the missile and would have to be removed in advance of a launching.

"They could be launching a satellite, a weather satellite or any type of satellite that might be launched by this system," Mr. Warner said. But he said the United States must "prepare for the possibility of a hostile strike," though he termed it a "probably remote possibility."

One thing that's clear is that the rocket was not fueled. While Defense Tech's story makes it clear they believe there is no ICBM, the evidence to definitively rule it out isn't 100% conclusive. But the fact that the fuel hasn't eaten up the rocket is proof that, once again, the public has been given 'faulty intelligence'.