William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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NORTH KOREA – AT 10:59 A.M. ET:  Oh yes, the North Koreans.  Remember those wonderful guys?  They're the ones we've been negotiating with since the Garden of Eden over their missile and nuclear programs, and, gosh darn, they always win.

We can't blame only Obama for this.  Bill Clinton caved on North Korea, and so, infamously, did George W. Bush, during his second administration, when he was under the thumb of his father's crowd, starting with Condi Rice.  We'd make a deal with the North Koreans, they'd break it, we'd do nothing but protest.  They'd call for new talks, and the same deception began all over.

Now the Northerners are preparing for their most extensive missile test yet.  And yes, we sent an angry letter.  From Fox:

The eyes of the world are on North Korea, as the rogue republic counts down to a provocative launch U.S. officials believe is aimed at showing the world its missiles can strike anywhere.

U.S. warships were on the move in the Western Pacific, as Pyongyang readied the satellite launch, expected to take place between Monday and Dec. 22. Pacific forces commander Adm. Samuel Locklear said it is unclear whether the secretive dictatorship has corrected the problems of a failed launch of a similar long-range rocket in April.

"This would be very destabilizing not only to the region, but to the international security environment," Locklear told The Associated Press.

New satellite images indicate that snow may have slowed launch preparations, but that Pyongyang could still be ready for liftoff starting Monday. South Korean media reports said North Korea has mounted all three stages of the Unha rocket on the launch pad. But snow may have prevented Pyongyang from finishing its work by then, according to satellite images that were scrutinized by analysts.

Locklear said the U.S. is moving ships with missile defense capabilities to the region to have the best "situational awareness" — and to reassure allies.

Two South Korean destroyers will be deployed in the Yellow Sea in the coming days to track the North Korean rocket, defense officials in Seoul said Friday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because ministry rules bar them from releasing information about defense movements over the phone.

The commander of American troops in Japan, Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella, said this week that his troops are closely monitoring activity in North Korea as it prepares for the launch. Speaking in Tokyo, he described the situation ahead of the planned launch as "very dangerous." He said American troops are working closely with the Japanese to protect the country's citizens and territory, but declined to give details.

COMMENT:  Adding to the danger is the fact that North Korea is a major exporter to the Mideast of nuclear and weapons technology.  Iran and Syria have been major beneficiaries.  In addition, a North Korean missile that can strike the West Coast of the United States, and, of course, Hawaii, changes the military balance in the Pacific.  We may not believe that a rational North Korea would actually strike the U.S., but we may fear that an irrational North Korea might.  Nations do not always act rationally, especially when they are under pressure.

December 8, 2012