N. Korea Preps for "Exploratory Rocket Launch"
North Korea is planning a rocket launch this week and, according to a new intelligence report from South Korea, may be planning its third nuclear test further down the road. The move would violate U.N. resolutions and North Korea's promise to refrain from engaging in nuclear and missile activity.
North Korean leaders say this week’s rocket launch, which was scheduled to celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of North Korea’s founder, is intended to collect data about North Korea’s agricultural resources in order to inform the nation’s response to natural disasters. However, U.S., South Korean and Japanese officials fear the launch is a guise to test long-range missiles, and new South Korea intelligence suggests that a third nuclear test will follow the rocket launch.
Beyond the birthday celebrations, the timing of the launch is no coincidence. This week also marks elections in South Korea, and recent polls show that President Lee Myung Bak’s party might lose control of the parliament to an opposition party that has pledged to improve the relationship between North and South Korea.
North Korea has previously tested two nuclear weapons, once in 2006 and once in 2009. Experts predict that the regime has four to 10 functioning nuclear weapons, but has yet to perfect long-range delivery mechanisms.
The Obama Administration has announced that a long-range missile test would violate the terms of the agreement made just over a month ago in which North Korean leaders pledged to halt their nuclear weapons program in exchange for food aid. Other countries, including Japan, Britain, and China, have urged North Korea to cancel the launch, warning that firing the long-range rocket would violate previous international agreements and promises made by the regime.
As Reform Jews, our views on just warfare and the paramount importance of the pursuit of peace inform our concern about this week’s planned rocket launch and report of a potential third nuclear test. Jewish laws on just warfare eschew weapons that would kill indiscriminately and create sustained and lasting damage to the environment. Nuclear weapons in the hands of extremist or unstable regimes pose particular danger to the world, yet the presence of any nuclear weapons in the world threatens to induce a nuclear arms race and goes against our Jewish obligation to “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalms 34:15).
If this week’s rocket launch is indeed a guise to test long-range missiles and if North Korea does indeed conduct a third nuclear test, then our vision of a nuclear weapons-free world becomes more difficult to reach.
Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera/GETTY