Pyongyang's Rocket Launch Could Help Relations With West: Stratfor

Kurien Abraham|Senior Producer, CNBC Asia Pacific
Thursday, 12 Apr 2012 | 8:22 PM ET

North Korea is once again testing relations with the world, as it test-fired a long-range missile in the face of strong warnings from the United States.

Kim Jae-Hwan | AFP | Getty Images

Friday's rocket launch, which ended in failure, had triggered international condemnation. But one analyst has suggested that the launch could jumpstart a meaningful dialogue between the West and North Korea, rather than worsen relations.

"If you go back to 1998 when they carried out their first launch, within two years the North Koreans had established diplomatic relations with the U.K., with Canada and Australia, and they were hosting the South Korean President in Pyongyang," Roger Baker, Director of East Asia Analysis at global intelligence company Stratfor, told CNBC on Thursday.

Washington has said the launch is the equivalent to a ballistic missile test, which violates U.N. Security Council resolutions and a February 29 deal under which the U.S. would provide food to North Korea in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program and a halt on long-range missile launches. The deal would have given Pyongyang 20,000 metric tons of food aid per month.

But Baker says there is little U.S. can do, beyond the rhetoric.

"By carrying out this launch, and probably carrying out a nuclear test in the next month or two, certainly that brings a lot of international pressure on North Korea, but in reality, there are very serious limits to what international pressure really does," he said.

"The Chinese are not going to cut economic relations with the North Koreans. Nobody is going to invade or carry out military strikes on North Korea," Baker added. He also believes that Pyongyang will return to the negotiating table as soon as the U.S presidential elections are over in November.

The launch of the Unha-3 rocket, which North Korea claims will merely put a weather satellite into space, caps of a nation-wide celebration of the 100th year since the birth of Kim Il-sung, founder of the nation. His grandson Kim Jong-un, which now rules the state, was on Wednesday given the title of "first secretary" of the ruling workers' party.

Baker says the world will have to get used to Pyongang's erratic behavior as being unpredictable is just the way North Korea knows how to survive.

"They have created a very unique strategy of survival, that allows them to use this sense of fears and threats. At the same time they also give the sense that they are a weak country and they need food aid."


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