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      North Korean Satellite Launch Changes Balance And Shakes Region

      Analysis: The North Korean satellite launch can be used for long range nuclear weapons. What are the implications for US and Asia?
      By Dr. Amiel Ungar
      First Publish: 12/13/2012, 8:19 AM

      Missile launch
      Missile launch
      Reuters

      Dr. Amiel Ungar is a political scientist living in Tekoa who writes on world issues and politics for Arutz Sheva.

      The success of the North Korean regime in putting a satellite into orbit has both diplomatic and strategic implications.

      It will undoubtedly provide encouragement for Iran, by demonstrating that UN condemnations and expressions of "regret" will not terrorize a country determined to change the strategic balance.

      It also represents the failure of US multilateral diplomacy that expected Russia and China to do a bit of the heavy lifting with regards to Pyongyang.

      Once again, the hopes that a young leader would mark a change in a brutal and tyrannical regime have been dashed.

      And, just as the sanctions policy was powerless in halting the North Korean nuclear program, it has proven similarly impotent in serving as backup to UN Security Council resolutions designed to halt the missile program.

      The North Korean long-range missile that lifted the weather satellite into orbit can provide a long range delivery system for nuclear weapons.

      It is a game changer, like the Sputnik satellite launched by the Soviet Union in the sixties, and will lead Southeast Asian nations to ponder the credibility of the American guarantee.

      As long as the United States could hit North Korea without fearing a counterstrike on American cities, the American guarantee had credibility.

      Now there will be those who will raise the same question that the French raised in the late 1950s. They asked if the United States could be expected to come to the defense of France if this risked the destruction of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles?

      Now the question will be rephrased: Will the United States defend Japan and South Korea and risk a nuclear strike against American cities?

      The French drew the conclusion that they needed their own independent nuclear force. The Japanese, who in addition fear the growth of Chinese military power, may reach the same conclusion.

      The tipoff will be the results of this Sunday's legislative elections in Japan. South Korea goes to the polls 3 days later.

      During the Cold War, once it became vulnerable to Soviet nuclear weapons,  the United States tried to enhance its credibility by stationing ground forces in Europe who would act as a tripwire. They were intended to convey a message to the Soviet Union that a Soviet attack in Europe involving many American casualties would swiftly escalate to a nuclear exchange.

      The problem with replicating such a strategy in Asia is economic. Sustaining massive ground forces would require a huge economic outlay by the Obama administration during a time of economic difficulties.

      It would also be a setback for a US administration that is priding itself on bringing the troops back home from Iraq and Afghanistan and using the amount saved for domestic reconstruction and growth.