Rocket Failure Weakens N.Korea Blackmail Diplomacy, Lankov Says

Andrei Lankov, an associate professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, comments about North Korea after South Korea’s defense ministry said the North’s rocket launch may have failed:

On possible North Korea’s rocket missile:

“I would dare to predict that North Korea won’t admit their failure. I would be slightly surprised if they admit that their rocket malfunctioned. I would expect them to claim that they have succeeded in putting their satellite into orbit. This is their usual way.

“They have already failed three times and they never admitted it. They made a big fuss about it and now they have a new leader. It will be very unstable control if they admit a failure.

“It seems that rocket fell into the sea so they can easily deny it happened. Nobody saw it, it happened quite far away from everybody’s eye sight. Domestically, they have complete control of the society and information.”

On North’s missile technology:

“Talking about the international situation, it will have some impact because once again it shows that they are very far away from developing a full-scale, reliable delivery system. The reason why they did it is because they want to show the world that they are capable of developing a reliable long-range ballistic missile. It has not happened. So this will be decrease the efficiency of their blackmail diplomacy.”

On possible sanctions against North Korea:

“Experience has shown that sanctions have next to no impact to North Korea, partially because China has always sabotaged sanctions and partially because North Korean society is designed in a way that makes it extremely unresponsive to any outside pressures.

“Breaking the agreement with the U.S. now was clearly a mistake.”

On the possibility of North’s nuclear test:

“I think they do have plans to conduct nuclear test soon. They often do it in pairs, a missile launch and nuclear test. It would make sense as part of their blackmail policy.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kyunghee Park in Seoul at kpark3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brett Miller at bmiller30@bloomberg.net

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