North Korea was supposed to launch a test missile Sunday but hasn't yet due to cloudy weather conditions. This has given time for governments around the world to react and for the US to activate its missile defence shield.
Condoleeza Rice said that if North Korea was to launch the Taepodong-2 missile, it would be seen as "a serious matter" and "a provocative act." Among the several nations that joined in condemnation of the possible launch, Australia, South Korea who said the launch would have "grave consequences", and more importantly, China. Beijing however specified that it would oppose a UN Security Council resolution against North Korea which pretty much guarantees it would never pass due to China's veto privilege.
A Russian presidential aide said the exercise was largely psychological and expressed skepticism regarding the danger of the missile. Nevertheless, Bush and Putin are keeping in close contact over this issue, as well as the situation in Iran which could be very much affected by the outcome of this.
How did North Korea react to all this? Defiantly, by stating it is its sovereign right to test missiles despite its self-imposed moratorium and that outsiders shouldn't criticize the affairs of North Korea.
Stock markets have reacted, with gold prices gaining and stock indexes falling, particularly in South Korea.
In the margins of this, troops are moving about. Japan is recalling its soldiers from Iraq but will step up its aerial role. It's interesting to note that Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi is pushing a constitutional reform through that would transform Japan's self-defence force into a full-fledged armed force, with the ability to take an offensive role. This could further strengthen Japan's role as a regional power, even without having the UN Security Council seat it wants so badly. Americans are coincidentally having massive war games in the Pacific, and China has been invited as an observer. The war games had been planned before the incident with North Korea and U.S. officials stress this should not be seen as a show of force against North Korea.
Why would North Korea cause all this stir? Here's a list of possibilities from this article:
Possible reasons for a test now include North Korean anger over a U.S. financial crackdown, which the North calls a form of sanctions, or an attempt to demonstrate that it has more technical prowess than Iran and should get at least as good a deal from the world as Iran has been offered to give up disputed nuclear activities.
North Korea referred to its missile program for the first time Monday, but has not said it intends to perform the test.
A North Korean state television broadcast, monitored in Seoul, South Korea, cited a Russian editorial on the missile and said the North ``has the due right to have a missile that can immediately halt the United States' reckless aerial espionage activity.''
The North has repeatedly complained in recent weeks about alleged U.S. spy planes watching its activities.
There's also these critics from North Korea:
North Korea kept up its tough talk in the country's official media Tuesday, lashing out at the United States for its missile defense plans, which it said would "touch off a space war in the long run," the North's Minju Joson newspaper wrote in a commentary, according to the country's Korean Central News Agency.
The North also criticized Japan. The Pentagon earlier this month said Tokyo was set to buy shipborne missiles and associated equipment from the U.S. to upgrade its missile defense system.
The North claimed Tokyo's new missiles showed an intent to become "a military giant," the North's main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said in commentary carried by KCNA