North Korea claims it is a peaceful, scientific endeavor, while the rest of the world, particularly the US, Japan and South Korea, doesn’t buy it. The United States has warned that the launch would trigger harsher sanctions against the communist country, although China would probably use its veto power in the United Nations Security Council to block any attempt to tighten restrictions. The Japanese and the Americans deployed their anti-missile defense systems this week and it is safe to say that the situation has become a royal mess.

It is likely that the launch not only tests North Korean missile technology in the country’s hopes of developing long range missile capabilities, but it sends a powerful political message to the rest of the world: the North Koreans are going ahead with the launch and will continue to develop their weapons/nuclear program no matter what.

The United States and allies may change negotiating tactics, as threatening and implementing sanctions has not been as effective as they hoped. In typical rhetoric from the North Korean government, the communist state claimed that any attempt to shoot down the missile will be considered an act of war. This came after Japan said they would shoot down debris from the rocket if it threatened Japanese territory. There is no telling what North Korea’s response would be to their missile being shot down.

Tensions continue to rise with each passing year it seems. The so-called ‘six-party talk’ process has failed to achieve significant results despite the Bush administration’s commitment and faith in the system. President Obama may be willing to reach out to North Korea more directly, as he demonstrated with his video message to the Iranian people and leaders, although we have not seen any such attempt so far in North Korea.

North Korea may be more willing to sit down with the United States alone, outside of the six-party talks, to discuss the situation. Stephen Bosworth, a White House envoy to North Korea, does not think that one-on-one talks with the communist government will have the adverse effects that many think it would. He stated, “I don’t think that bilateral contacts of the sort that have occurred in the past, and that I believe will occur in the future, will weaken the six-party process.”

With the launch probably set for the weekend, the world eagerly awaits the reactions of the United States, South Korea, Japan and the United Nations. How they respond, and how North Korea responds to their response, will have lasting effects on the global landscape as it pertains to North Korea and their nuclear ambitions. Brace for history.

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