Both the United States and the People’s Republic of China have told North Korea that what it is doing, launching rockets and detonating nuclear weapons, is “unacceptable behavior.” China is North Korea’s most powerful and rich benefactor. But it doesn’t want its ward to be a danger to world peace and stability. But it like all the rest of the world, it can hardly do anything to make the North stop its madness.
The Philippines, which is affected by North Korea’s actions, can do nothing. But the Filipino people have a powerful weapon: prayer.
The latest news of Agence France Presse (AFP) as this piece is being written on the late afternoon of Friday Feb. 5 is that US satellite data suggest that North Korea may have already begun fuelling a rocket it plans to launch within the month.
It continues to tell the world it will launch the rocket despite heavy international opposition.
Pyongyang earlier announced it would launch a satellite-bearing rocket sometime between February 8-25. This is about the time of the birthday on February 16 of the North’s late leader Kim Jong-Il, father of current Beloved Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un.
The North insists its space program is purely scientific in nature, but the United States and allies, including South Korea, say its rocket launches are aimed at developing an inter-continental ballistic missile capable of striking the US mainland.
North Korea “will finish preparations for the launch as soon as the next several days” an unidentified US Defense Department official told the Asahi Shimbun.
Since Thursday, per AFP, satellite images have shown increased movement of people and equipment around the launch pad and a fuel storehouse at North Korea’s Sohae satellite launch complex in the country’s northwest, the official said in a Washington-datelined report.
The AFP report yesterday afternoon said “the United States judged that fuelling appears to have started as it has been monitoring Pyongyang’s movements via military intelligence satellites which can analyze objects as small as 30 centimetres (12 inches), the official was quoted as saying.”
Given the difficulty in stopping the process once fuelling begins, preparation work normally finishes within several days of that, the official told the Asahi.
UN sanctions prohibit North Korea from any use of ballistic missile technology, and the imminent launch would amount to another major violation of UN Security Council resolutions following Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test last month.
In its formal notification sent to UN agencies, North Korea provided flight coordinates similar to its last successful launch of a three-stage Unha-3 rocket in December 2012.
The separated first stage was predicted to fall in the Yellow Sea off the west coast of South Korea, followed by a second stage splashdown in the Philippine Sea.
In order to avoid any possible collision, Japanese and South Korean airlines will be rerouting a number of flights during the launch window period.
Japan’s two biggest airlines—All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines — said they would be diverting planes that fly over waters off the Philippines.
The change will affect three ANA flights—from Tokyo’s Haneda airport to Manila, from Manila to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport, and from Jakarta in Indonesia to Narita, the airline said.
Two JAL flights—one from Jakarta to Narita and another from Narita to Manila—will also be rerouted.
On Wednesday Japan condemned Pyongyang’s plan to launch a space rocket, calling it a thinly disguised test of a long-distance ballistic missile. Then the Japanese government ordered Aegis ballistic missile defense warships of the Maritime Self-Defense Force and land-based Patriot PAC-3 rocket units to respond should projections show components falling in Japanese territory.
These are scary times, indeed. Which is why we Filipinos should pray.