A Tale Of Three Rocket Firings
North Korean launch
Even before the firing the announcement that North Korea was to launch a satellite into space with a ballistic missile brought about stinging criticism from Western nations who unabashedly call this nation a pariah state.
The Pyongyang governments had qualified for being considered as ‘untouchables’ in the international community having withdrawn into a shell decades ago, cutting off links with most western nations, adopting a belligerent attitude towards its neighbours save China and the people being held in chains by Kim Il dynasty for over six decades by Kim Il Sung, his son Kim Il Jung and now the grandson Kim Il Un.
But do all this have a bearing on the threat North Korea poses with nuclear proliferation? Perhaps as a commentator said last week: ‘It is not the kind of spear that matters but who wields the weapon’.
The North Korean missile it was reported broke up on its launch and fell into the North China Sea. What happened to the satellite is not known.
Western leaders were apparently happy at the outcome. The Western media showed savaged delight forgetting the many tragic events that followed launches of NASA at Cape Canaveral.
Nuclear proliferation by nations whether they be pariahs or saints has to be condemned and North Korea having withdrawn from the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty is undoubtedly going ahead with a nuclear armament programme. But if the so called international community, particularly the UN, wants to curb or halt nuclear proliferation then fair and uniform principles should be applied to all nations.
Kissing when it is in the form of nuclear proliferation shouldn’t go by favour. North Korea violated United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSC) 1718 of 2006 and UNSC 1874 with the launch of the ballistic missile this month.And has been condemned by the UN.
India too has consistently violated UNSC regulations on the use of Ballistic Missiles for delivery of nuclear weapons. This month it once again violated UNSC 1172 of 1998 when it launched Agni V a missile with a range of 5000 Km (3, 100 miles) said to be capable of hitting any region of China. When Pyongyang attempted fire its missile to launch the satellite, India too joined the chorus of nuclear sanctimoniousness by expressing ‘deep concern’ at the North Korean launch. North Korea was censured by the UN for its violations but not India for a violation far worse.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the successful test firing of Agni V was, ‘another milestone in our quest to add credibility to our security and preparedness’.
The Chinese kept its inscrutable calm on the question. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that ‘India and China were large developing countries that had to work hard to uphold strategic cooperation and bring about peace and stability’. China government’s official paper, People’s Daily was more forthright. ‘India should not overestimate its strength’ it said.
The US State department Deputy spokesman Mark Toner was restrained in his praise of India but spoke of the strong strategic links that exist between the two countries.
To keep up with the American posture on nuclear non proliferation he said that the US urges’ all nuclear capable states to exercise restraint regarding nuclear and missile capability and adding that, ‘India has a very strong record on non proliferation issues’ and citing a some nuclear conferences attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
However he failed to note certain smudges in the Indian nuclear non proliferation record such as its failure to sign the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and the American ban under their Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act in 1994 after India conducted tests in 1998 announcing itself as a world nuclear power.
The Agni V firing was for the purpose of flexing the Indian military muscle at China and America would have no doubt been pleased because its interests in India were kindled in the 1990s when China emerged as the predominant economic and military power in Asia.
Pakistan however was taking no chances and it had to keep its people feeling safe and secure. As has been the practice earlier of following Indian nuclear tests and missile firings with Pakistani responses, the Agni V firing was followed a few days later by Pakistan firing and intermediate range missile Shaheen-1A into the Indian Ocean. This missile has a range of 2500 to 3000 Km and it could it any region in India. After keeping mum on Agni V, Americans and other western nations who these days are not too well disposed towards Pakistan kept silent. The tragedy about all these three ‘nuclear powers’ is that still a great majority of people in their countries live in abject poverty on less than USD 2 a day. Manmohan Singh himself admitted last year that the greatest threat faced by India was the Naxalite insurgency where the poorest and the most shunned of the poor have taken to guns and are spreading across the sub-continent. But damn the poor Indians! India wants to join the big five nations and be in the UN Security Council with Veto powers. To do that it must have missile and nuclear power .It is also about to complete the manufacture of a nuclear powered submarine and has already bought 100 advanced jet fighters from France at the cost of billions of dollars.
To sit at the high table of global power such military hardware are essential.