North Korea’s Failed Unha-3 Missile Test: Implications for Pyongyang and Northeast Asia

BY BEN HABIB. The technical aspects of the failed Unha-3 rocket launch are less interesting than the political undercurrents swirling around this event. The rocket’s explosion has spared the United States and its regional allies some loss of face while for North Korea, it represents a missed opportunity for Pyongyang to maximise its diplomatic and strategic leverage, over and above any threat to Kim Jong-un’s legitimacy as leader.

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The Lessons of Kwangmyongsong-3: Satellite Lauch, Missile Test, Leadership Badge or Bargaining Chip?

BY BEN HABIB. The North’s Kwangmyongsong-3 rocket launch is likely to yield important insights in three areas of interest to North Korea watchers. First, the relative success of North Korea’s rocket launch is likely to yield insights into the operability of the North’s overall nuclear weapons capability and specifically its ability to deliver a nuclear payload to targets at distances beyond 1,000 kilometres. Second, it would appear to fit with a longer trend of provocations dating back to the Cheonan incident in 2010 that have been linked to the legitimisation of Kim Jong-un’s leadership credentials. Finally, with the potential restart of negotiations with Washington in the offing, the launch indicates that coercive bargaining is likely to remain Pyongyang’s modus operandi in international negotiations under the new leadership.

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What Now? North Korea after the death of Kim Jong-il

BY BEN HABIB. The death of North Korea’s ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong-il casts a cloud over the future of the already weak North Korean state and the stability of Northeast Asian security environment. Speculation about the future of a post-Kim Jong-il North Korea has been mounting since reports about Kim’s ill-health surfaced in 2008, raising questions about leadership succession, the viability of North Korea’s unique political system and political stability on the Korean peninsula. With Kim’s passing, those questions will be answered in short order.

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