April 06, 2009
The NoKo Missile and UNSC Sanctions
While Russia had first confirmed a North Korean satellite launch, it now says that no satellite reached the orbit.
According to U.S. information the third stage never separated from the second one and both fell into the sea south of Japan.
The 'west', i.e. the U.S., is trying to get additional UN sanctions on North Korea but the Chinese and Russians will likely block those. The 'western' argument is that the North Korean launch violated UN Security Council resolution 1718 (pdf) established in 2006 after NoKo exploded a nuclear device.
China and Russia have a good formal reason to dispute that. As the 'western' media will not spell that out I will do so here. In UNSCR 1718 the Security Council:
2. Demands that the DPRK not conduct any further nuclear test or launch of a ballistic missile;
5. Decides that the DPRK shall suspend all activities related to its ballistic
missile programme and in this context re-establish its pre-existing commitments to a
moratorium on missile launching;
The term ballistic missile is quite specific:
A ballistic missile is a missile that follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath with the objective of delivering a warhead (often nuclear) to a predetermined target.
A satellite, by definition, is an orbital object and the launch of satellites is thereby not forbidden under UNSCR 1718. There are signs that this was indeed an attempted satellite launch. North Korea took all the necessary steps in international law that are required for a satellite launch like informing the international air and shipping organizations about the flight path and drop zones. A picture of the missile shows a big nosecone which is typical for a satellite launcher and atypical for a ballistic missile.
Of course the launch of such a satellite carrying missile will also bring experience for the further development of ballistic missiles. As the FAS security blog remarks:
The reason the world is worried about this test is not because we are worried about competition in the satellite launch business. (Good luck to them!) The world worries because the launcher the North Koreans used is a Taepodong-2, which most everyone believes is their next step up toward a long-range ballistic missile. By taking a warhead off and putting a small third stage and a satellite on top, they might call it a space launcher but the first two stages are exactly the same.
As the third stage never separated, it either failed or it was only a mock up to start with. But as South Korea plans to launch its first satellite this summer, a North Korean satellite now would have been a great point in the permanent North-South propaganda war. That is why I personally believe that this was a real satellite launch attempt.
The question of satellite launch or ballistic missile launch with a mock third stage is for now undecidable. The sea where the second and third stage landed is about 20,000 feet deep. Unless Captain Nemo's Nautilus brings the wreckage to the surface, the UNSC will have to agree to disagree over what the missile really was and if the launch was a breach of UNSCR 1718 or not.
Posted by b on April 6, 2009 at 11:00 AM | Permalink
It was Jung Il's wet dream. Fas.org already determined that the Taipo Dong 2 *cannot sustain internal stresses of any payload*. The third stage was just a mockup to meet the "satellite launch" charade. NK doesn't have nuclear weapons, and it doesn't have an ICBM. It can lob an empty TD2 into Japan, and when it does, be totally obliterated.
But OMG, all the policy, strategy and security wonks, the cash registers are running overtime in Alexandria! Chi-ching, chi-ching, chi-ching, keep it going, scare it up!
Oh G-d, the whole East Asia division was up all weekend, it's double overtime, baby! Buncha welfare tax dole drones. Send 'em all to NK if they wanna study it to death.
What you wanna be watching is the USD:CND and USD:CHF, not the fooking North Koreans.
Posted by: TS Elliot | Apr 6, 2009 12:35:34 PM | 1
@1, We are the hollow missiles, held together with straw...
Was this test sponsored by Raytheon, et alia? Can't sell missile defense without a threat.
Posted by: biklett | Apr 6, 2009 1:13:23 PM | 2
You personally believe that it was a satellite because you think that North Korea would ideally want it to be a satellite, it had a large nose cone, and they filled out the right forms. It just so happened that precisely the most confusing sort of technical failure occurred. That's a bold assessment.
Posted by: boxcar mike | Apr 6, 2009 6:21:03 PM | 3
The link that you provided that was meant to support the claim that Russia who confirmed that the DPRK satellite was in orbit, and now has reversed this official statement, does not provide a link to the original China News article so that it can be confirmed.
If one is to take this claim seriously, please provide a link to it so that what you have posted purported to be from China News can be verified.
Posted by: Honesty | Apr 6, 2009 9:10:41 PM | 4
Sorry, please disregard my last post,...missed something there but have now found it.
Posted by: Honesty | Apr 6, 2009 9:16:11 PM | 5
I think it's wrongheaded to slap sanctions on any of so-called "evildoers," such as North Korea and Iran (nothing personal, Parviz), simply because this will only create a black market for goods and services which, in turn, creates a hotbed for even more evildoers.
Posted by: Cynthia | Apr 7, 2009 1:28:30 PM | 6
First video of the launch. Quite different missile than known NoKo stuff (and notably different from Iranian missiles). Three stage, but no wide nosecone as was analyzed from satellite pictures.
Posted by: b | Apr 7, 2009 1:52:46 PM | 7
Hi b, true that the satellite nose cone was not wider than the third stage, but nevertheless it is distinct in that it appears as a fourth stage.
As to how wide it was, it would be possible to calculate if the dimensions of any of the other stages were to become known. In any event, you are right in that this indeed was an order of magnitude larger rocket than anything they have ever launched before and now can be considered a member of the world's space capable nations.
FWIW, IMO media reports to the contrary, the satellite is in orbit OK but there is a lot of 'horse trading' going on at the moment with regards to whether DPRK gets punished by UN and so I doubt that in the short term there will be any clear public acknowledgment of this by the major players.
Posted by: Honesty | Apr 7, 2009 7:25:05 PM | 8
and speaking of satellites & rocket launches...
april 3rd: Atlas 5 rocket successfully launches military satellite
It was a perfect Friday night flight for the Atlas 5 rocket, completing a military mission that put an advanced communications spacecraft into the sky to serve U.S. forces deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We only have one chance to get it right! In this profession you have to be meticulous to detail and patient to ensure mission success," said Capt. Jeffrey Fisher, the mission lead.
Patience proved to be a virtue for the team, having experienced a long wait to see the 19-story rocket and Wideband Global SATCOM 2 spacecraft successfully thunder away from Cape Canaveral's Complex 41.
"WGS 2 is truly an amazing spacecraft that will continue to expand the critical communications capability depended on by the joint warfighting team," said Col. Michael Moran, commander of the Atlas Group at the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center.
"Congratulations to the entire team for their hard work and dedication to the mission," said Brig. Gen. Edward L. Bolton Jr., 45th Space Wing commander at the Cape. "We're helping to give the most versatile and sophisticated technology to our warfighters."
"This asset is intended to be on-orbit for 10 to 15 years," said Lt. Col. John Wagner, commander of the 45th Launch Support Squadron at the Cape. "This is going to be providing vital information 24/7/365."
The satellite will be parked over the equator around 60 degrees East longitude for use by U.S. Central Command in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of Southwest Asia, according to Col. William Harding, vice commander of the Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing at the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles.
"WGS is a force multiplier for our troops in the field who defend America's freedom everyday," said James Bell, United Launch Alliance's WGS mission manager for Atlas and Delta.
A half-dozen WGS satellites will be put into space over the next few years to provide a major upgrade of the military's main communications infrastructure, replacing the aging Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) spacecraft. Each WGS has 10 times the capacity of a DSCS satellite, allowing users to process and receive data quicker than ever before.
"The WGS system provides a quantum leap in communications bandwidth for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, and is the DOD's highest capacity communications satellite," Harding said.
WGS 1 entered service last year to cover the vast Pacific Command that spans the U.S. western coast all the way to Southeast Asia.
"Users love it and we expect a similar reaction when we get WGS 2 up over CENTCOM," Harding said.
The WGS craft offer X-band communications, like the venerable DSCS satellites, to relay data, photos and video to troops on the battlefield.
What WGS offers that DSCS does not is Ka-band communications. Officials describe the extra frequency as a way of serving up large amounts of information for reception by U.S. and allied forces across a wide area.
A third WGS satellite is scheduled for launch later this summer from Cape Canaveral aboard a Delta 4 rocket. It will be positioned over the Eastern Atlantic at an orbital slot of 12 degrees West longitude, Harding said, for U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command operations.
"WGS 3 has also completed a very rigorous test program and sits in storage in our factory here in El Segundo awaiting its call-up and launch later this year," said Mark Spiwak, WGS program director at Boeing.
Three additional satellites with enhanced features, known as WGS Block 2, are planned to launch in 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively. The final one was purchased in cooperation with Australia.
"The six-vehicle WGS constellation will not only provide much greater throughput than DSCS, but the number of spacecraft receive and transmit beams available to support the user community will also increase more than four-fold, giving the system greater flexibility, agility and area coverage," said Col. Don Robbins, commander of the Wideband SATCOM Group at the MILSATCOM Systems Wing.
Posted by: b real | Apr 7, 2009 11:17:46 PM | 9