DENVER – North Korea’s apparently successful launch of its Unha-3 rocket was inevitable after the failed launch nine months ago. There were no signs then – or ever – that the North Koreans were planning to give up. Indeed, the missile launch seemed directly related to another launch – that of North Korea’s newest beloved leader, Kim Jong-un – and the domestic politics surrounding it.
But the question has never been whether the North Koreans were going to abandon their efforts to marry a nuclear warhead to an intercontinental missile. The real issue is what the rest of the world plans to do about it.
The missile launch proceeded despite two United Nations Security Council resolutions and pressure from all of North Korea’s neighbors, including, apparently, considerable pressure from the Chinese. International condemnation will surely include new sanctions, or at least a renewed effort to enforce existing ones.
The only plausible interpretation of the launch, however, is that the North Koreans simply do not care what the rest of the world thinks about them. To the extent there is any calculation on their part, it is that we will huff and puff and inevitably move on to another of the world’s numerous crises.