North Korea rocket launch a dud while new 'Leader' viewed as Dr. Strangelove

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Now that North Korea’s new leader has said to have lost face due to a failed rocket launch Friday - causing both domestic and international embarrassment - some fear Kim Jong-Un could become a sort of “Dr. Strangelove.”

North Korea’s new “Supreme Leader,” is 28-year-old Kim Jong-Un who “defied international warnings of censure and further isolation on Friday,” reported the Los Angeles Times April 13; after North Korea “launched a rocket that the United States and its allies called provocative pretext for developing an intercontinental ballistic missile” that the U.S. State Department says could reach the West Coast one day carrying a nuclear warhead. The L.A. Times report also explained how this “was a major embarrassment to the North and its young new leader after the rocket disintegrated moments after the launching, and American and Japanese officials said its remnants fell harmlessly into the sea.” Kim Jong-Un is the current “Supreme Leader” of North Korea; while on April 13 this young man with little experience in running a nation also became the holder of his country’s keys to launch nuclear weapons as the “First Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea.” Kim Jong-Un is the third and youngest son of his deceased predecessor Kim Jong-Il, after he was officially declared the supreme leader following the state funeral of his father.

At the same time, this “Friday the 13th,” marks the 48th anniversary of the premier of the 1964 film “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” which satirizes the nuclear scare of the Sixties. Today, with the world facing the same nuclear worries, some have joked that Kim Jong-Un may must also learn to “Love the Bomb,” that’s being used as his country’s big stick on the world stage.

Dr. Strangelove or How Kim Jong-Un learned to Love the Bomb

“Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” commonly known as “Dr. Strangelove,” was directed, produced and co-written by famed New York director Stanley Kubrick.

In turn, Kubrick explains – in the film’s DVD anniversary extras interview – that he based Dr. Strangelove on Peter George’s Cold War thriller novel “Red Alert,” also known as “Two Hours to Doom,” that asked “what’s stopping a nut who holds the keys to launching nuclear missiles from doing it?”

In 1998, the U.S. Library of Congress deemed “Dr. Strangelove” “culturally significant and important,” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. Dr. Strangelove was listed as “number three” on the American Film Institute’s Best 100 Films and AFI’s “100 Years… 100 Laughs.”

North Korea boasts fall flat when rocket launch fails

The fact that “North Korea failed in its much-hyped effort to launch a satellite into space Friday, undercuts its claims to be a "strong and prosperous" nation on the centennial of founder Kim Il Sung's birth, reported the L.A. Times April 13; while also noting that “after weeks of boasting by the country, the missile launched at 7:39 a.m. on a sunny, wind-free morning from a base near the west coast city of Sinuiju. U.S. and South Korean intelligence reports say the rocket quickly broke up and splashed into the Yellow Sea.”

"The missile traveled one to two minutes and broke apart in the air. It broke into 20 separate pieces," Shin Won-shik, a South Korean Defense Ministry official, said at a briefing Friday morning. Shin said some of the debris fell 60 to 90 miles off the west coast of South Korea, but the rocket could have reached the West Coast of the U.S., added the State Department.

Moreover, the L.A. Times reported how “The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said the first stage of the missile fell into the sea about 100 miles west of Seoul. The remaining stages were believed to have failed and no debris fell on land, NORAD said, adding that the missile and resultant debris were never a threat.”

Also, the reported explained how “the failure could be a domestic and international public relations disaster and undermine the legitimacy of North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong Un, who is still in his 20s. He took over in December after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.”

Friday's launch was designed not only to commemorate the birth of Kim Il Sung on April 15, 1912, but also to confirm the legitimacy of his grandson Kim Jong Un, the third generation of the dynasty but an untested leader, stated the L.A. Times report for Friday the 13th.

Also, David Wright, an arms control expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the L.A. Times that “the failure of the rocket to reach even the first-stage splashdown zone about 80 miles from the launch site demonstrated that North Korea's rocket science was far from the long-range capability needed to deliver a nuclear warhead.”

Failed rocket launch hurts young leader

"The reason this launch was seen as a big deal was because it was seen as an indication of how far North Korea has advanced on the road toward a working ballistic missile," Wright said. "It didn't even get as far with it as it did last time."

"North Korea's provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments," the White House said in a statement. "North Korea is only further isolating itself by engaging in provocative acts, and is wasting its money on weapons and propaganda displays while the North Korean people go hungry."

Wright also told the L.A. Times “if North Korea had succeeded, it would have given the impoverished state a big morale boost in claiming superiority over the richer South, which had unsuccessful satellite launches in 2009 and 2010 — and enhanced its claims that it could defend itself against the U.S.”

World leaders also decry rocket launch

According to an April 13 front page report in The New York Times spotlighting the failed rocket launch by North Korea to flex its potential nuclear missile muscles, “The United States, Russia, Japan and others had urged North Korea to call off the launch widely seen abroad as a covert test of missile technology.”

The New York Times also reported how “experts say the Unha-3 carrier is the same type of rocket that would be used to strike the U.S. and other targets with a long-range missile.”

Also, the Times reported noted how “North Korea has tested two atomic devices but is not believed to have mastered the technology needed to mount a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile.”

In turn, other international media featured North Korean space officials in the country’s capital of Pyongyang who refused to “back down,” telling reporters that “it is North Korea’s sovereign right to develop its space program.”

North Korea aiming to take out West Coast with its nukes, say experts

The U.S. State Department has said that North Korea’s nuclear threat comes from its two “long-range Taepondong-2 missiles that failed in “two rounds of North Korean missile tests conducted on July 5, 2006.

The range of the missile was often estimated to be 6000 km, capable of reaching as far as Oregon, Alaska and other parts of the West Coast.

As for this failed Friday the 13th rocket launch from North Korea, The New York Times reported April 13 that “world leaders were swift to denounce the launch, calling it a covert test of missile technology and a flagrant violation of international resolutions prohibiting North Korea from developing its ‘nuclear’ and missile programs.”

Image source of a United Nations map showing North Korea’s location and the nuclear warning symbol. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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