Some Tout Preemptive Strike; Others Advise Caution
Much of the world
continues to be captivated by the possibility that North Korea
could test-launch its Taepodong-2 long-range ICBM -- a missile
capable of hitting Alaska, and perhaps much of the West Coast.
In the Washington Post Thursday, former Defense Secretary
William Perry and his former assistant, Ashton Carter, wrote
an opinion piece calling on the Bush administration to immediately
make clear its intention to destroy the North Korean missile before
it poses what they call a "mortal threat."
"...[I]f North Korea persists in its launch preparations, the
United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike
and destroy the North Korean Taepodong missile before it can be
launched," the men wrote.
There have been veiled threats from senior US defense officials
of a preemptive strike against North Korea to do just that.
By late Thursday, however, those calls had been muted. Vice
President Dick Cheney says the US is responding to the Korean
situation in the appropriate fashion -- and called Kim Jong Il's
missile capabilities very rudimentary at best.
"I mean, they've been building Scuds and so forth over the
years," Cheney told the BBC, "but their test flights in the past
haven't been notably successful."
Still, he says the US is monitoring the situation very closely.
But if that sounds like the US is taking a wait and see attitude on
the North's missile test... Cheney also says, if Kim plans to
attack other countries with its missiles, he'd better be ready to
take more than one shot.
In the meantime, the Taepodong-2 continues to sit on its launch
pad... apparently fueled, and ready to go.