Last week George Bush and Japan’s PM, Junichiro Koizumi, threatened “punitive” measures against North Korea if it carried out a test launch of the Taepodong 2 long-range missile.

Yesterday at 7.32 British time, minutes before the Independence Day launch of America’s space shuttle Discovery, Kim Jong-il fired the first of six missiles, one of which was the Taepodong 2, believed to have a range capability of 3000 miles.

Although the tests were unsuccessful (the first rocket fell from the sky minutes after launching) Bush is now in a difficult position regarding his punitive action threat.

Is North Korea hoping that by creating a crisis it can get the West to the negotiating table?


But on what grounds could they negotiate?

North Korea and Iran draw encouragement from each other in their mutual defiance of America’s efforts to persuade them to abandon their nuclear ambitions.

Both regimes desire nuclear capability and Bush doesn’t want them to have it.

What’s to talk about? 

The launch was a deliberately provocative act, one of defiance, a “bring-it-on” gesture, a middle finger in the President’s face.

What you gonna do, Georgie-boy?