It took five tries and almost 15 years, but there is no question that North Korea's successful launch
of a satellite into orbit on December 11 is a major technological achievement.
It is not, however, a serious military threat to the United States or other nations. North Korea still has a long way to go before they can turn the orbiting of a baby satellite, reportedly tumbling out of control
, into the ability to threaten others at long distance with a nuclear weapon.
If the past is any guide, North Korea's launch of an Unha-3 rocket will have international security repercussions far out of proportion to its military capability.
North Korea's first attempt in launching a satellite in April 1998 under Kim Jong Il failed, but it triggered a panic in the U.S. Proponents of elaborate anti-missile weapons seized
on the launch as proof that dictators of small, undeterrable countries could soon attack the U.S. with nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles...