According to a spokesman for the North Korean Committee for Space Technology, the North is planning to launch a satellite into orbit sometime between December 10 and December 22. But is this really the intention of North Korea or is it something else altogether? Launching a rocket under the guise it’s a satellite for scientific purposes, is far different than saying their testing a long-range ballistic missile which would violate UN resolutions 1718 and 1874, under which North Korea is barred from testing ballistic missile technology. In addition, it would anger the Chinese, North Korea’s only ally in the region, after they’ve asked the North Koreans to reduce tensions. In April, the North attempted a so-called satellite launch that broke apart after liftoff. This time the Korean Central News Agency is saying that, “Scientists and technicians have analyzed the mistakes made in April, when the rocket broke apart shortly after takeoff, and have worked to improve the reliability and precision of the satellite and carrier rocket.” The South Korean’s are concerned and have said through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that if the launch takes place, “it will be faced with a strong response.” The statement continued, “The launch is a severe provocation as it is ignoring the concern and warning from the international community and is a direct challenge to the international community as a whole. It’s a long-range missile test in the name of working satellite.” There’s little doubt the North Korean’s are once again making a statement in an effort to force the US back to the negotiating table. They understand negotiating from a position of strength is always preferable. Launch aside, the North is in a very difficult position. On the one hand, they would like all of the sanctions lifted and aid reinstated. Their economy is under intense pressure. On the other hand, they believe having a long-range nuclear capability would give them instant credibility and worldwide recognition. The North Koreans have no intention of moving towards a more socialist/capitalist system the way the Chinese have. They consider themselves one of the last bastions of true communism; one of the last holdouts against the west. For Kim Jung Un, a successful launch is important for him personally, in the wake of the failure in April and less than a year since the death of his father. In a statement by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, “Devoting scarce resources to the development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles will only further isolate and impoverish North Korea. The path to security for North Korea lies in investing in its people and abiding by its commitments and international obligations.” Clearly, if the North gave up it’s intentions to build weapons of mass destruction, it could join the international community of civilized nations. The South would offer no threat and the world would see to it that her sovereignty was protected.