Johns Hopkins experts on North Korea rocket launch

Despite predictions of delay, reports confirm successful test launch

Though a Johns Hopkins academic institute had predicted a delay, multiple reports this morning confirm that North Korea successfully launched a long-range rocket in defiance of international warnings, a demonstration of the improving weapons capabilities of the reclusive communist nation.

An analysis posted earlier this week by 38 North, the website of the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, predicted that a launch was likely to be delayed until next week, as satellite imagery indicated that the Unha-3 rocket had been removed from the launch pad for repair. However, a postscript added to the analysis acknowledged that "press reports that North Korea launched the Unha rocket this evening were confirmed by US, Japanese and South Korean government sources."

This was North Korea's second attempt this year, and fifth since 1998, to launch a long-range rocket. The previous four attempts all failed. Washington says the launches are a cover for testing technology for missiles that could be used to strike the United States; North Korea says its program is about space research, not weapons technology, and is permissible under an international space treaty.

In a recent interview with South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, Joel Wit, a former State Department official and 38 North's editor, said that the Obama administration's "strategic patience" with North Korea will only facilitate the nation's "natural process" of developing nuclear weapons and delivery systems.

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