North Korea is apparently preparing to launch two new missile tests, one of a mid-range missile, and the second of it's long range missile (technically capable of reaching the US, but they've had repeated difficulties even getting the missile to reach apogee) from their western border at Dongchang-ri. Additionally: 'The reclusive communist country was showing other signs of belligerence. Reports say that over the past several days, the North has strengthened its defenses and conducted amphibious assault exercises along its western shore that could be preparations for skirmishes at sea.' Both South and North Korea have been anteing-up lately, with increase drills as well as a heating up of the rhetoric (the latter primarily on the North Korean side). South Korea and Japan now seem open to search and seizure operations of North Korean vessels suspected of carrying nuclear material or components necessary for processing of material, and North Korea appears to be deliberately provoking instability.
The AP reports that Susan Rice (the US envoy to the UN) claims: 'At the United Nations, US envoy Susan Rice said there had been movement in talks with her counterparts from Britain, China, France, Russia, Japan and South Korea when they met Monday to thrash out a draft resolution imposing tougher sanctions on the isolated regime.' However, the NYT reports that Russia and China are seeking delay the implementation of further sanctions. 'The United States circulated a softened draft resolution to the Security Council in response to North Korea’s assertion that it conducted a nuclear test on Monday. The United States pressed for a vote by Friday, but China and Russia immediately signaled their opposition to critical parts of the measure and said they needed more time. On Thursday night, a new draft resolution was circulated, and Reuters quoted the Chinese and Russian ambassadors calling the revisions improvements.' This all comes in the context of Kim Jong-Il's apparent appointment of his son, Kim Jong-un, as successor (discussed in yesterday's blog), and the move to try two US journalists for espionage.
Whatever the outcome of the action at the UN (I continue to doubt that body capable of much if any action), it's clear that Kim Jong-Il wants to ensure that he is receiving attention and is feared, in his own country and region and abroad.