Friday, April 27, 2012

Potemkin ICBMs: So Good We Had to Hide Them

The game of "are they real or ain't they" which has surrounded a set of ICBMs on (allegedly) Chinese TEL's that North Korea allowed to rumble through Pyongyang on the 15th doesn't particularly interest me, but for the sake of adding circumstantial evidence to the "they're clearly just mock-ups" hypothesis, here is a picture from a friend of mine, Tony Henshall, with whom I was lucky enough to enjoy the parade in question from a location just across the Taedong River.

North Korean ICBM on Chinese TEL crossing Okryu Bridge in Pyongyang, April 15th, 2012 (©Tony Henshall)
As you can see, Tony has done us the service of capturing a lovely shot of one of the mysterious projectiles on its TEL coming across Okryu Bridge, i.e moments after it passed through Kim Il Sung Square.

Note that unlike every other piece of military hardware that passed by, these "ICBMs" were all shrouded in camouflage netting, just like the one above. Admittedly I'm not a military man, but I couldn't help thinking that this did not mean that the weapons were actually so advanced that the Chosun People's Army dared not let foreigners see them close up lest they sell the secrets abroad; rather, that the closer one were allowed to get to them, the less believable they were likely to become.

The takeaway? At the very least it makes me wonder whether our North Korea policy might not be best off starting with, "Your rockets don't work, your missiles are fake and you can never launch your nukes in anger anyway, so what exactly are you hoping to achieve?"

Strategic patience? Strategic indifference, perhaps.

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