North Korea Stands Down

APFor two weeks a pair of North Korean (DPRK) Musudan missiles have stood poised to blast skyward, renewing as they flew, global concern over Pyongyang’s foreign policy.

No more.

Unnamed U.S. officials told Reuters and BBC the missiles are now on standby and according to a second source have been relocated.

The source says the Musudan’s haven’t just been moved to a second launch site, but to a “nonoperational” location.

Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters the move is part of almost a larger blossoming of DPRK good sense. “what we have seen recently,” he said, ‘is a provocation pause,”

Little may have been, in part referring to what the BBC mentions here:

“North Korea unveiled medium-range Musudan missiles during a military parade in 2010 but had not yet tested them.

Last month, South Korea raised its alert level to ‘vital threat’ amid indications the North was preparing for a missile test.

At least one ballistic missile with an estimated 3,000km (2,000-mile) range had been fuelled and ready for launch, according to US and South Korean sources.”

Had the Musudan’s tested successfully they would have lifted regional tensions to a new level. They have a 2,000 mile range, giving them reach to strike deeply into the South at Pyongyang’s whim.

No doubt the North realised the card it was playing with the pair of them ready to rock at a moments notice. Perhaps that’s why they rolled back from launch status today before South Korean President Park Guen-hye meets with Barrack Obama at the White House.

But of course, nobody ever got promoted speculating North Korea’s next move and Daniel Russel, the senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council told reporters,

“It’s premature to make a judgment about whether the North Koreans’ provocation cycle is going up, down or zigzagging. The decision to launch or not launch missiles, to conduct a provocation or to stand down or defer it, is a decision that rests with the North Koreans.”

Even a minor pause though, a deep breath to get some air and clear its head like this, is a welcome sign from the erratically run regime.

North Korea’s projected missile range is outlined below:

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