While everyone is distracted by the pandemic crisis one of America’s archenemies defied Donald Trump and launched a satellite into orbit. Trump is not only chaotically trying to get a handle on the economic crisis facing Americans because of the Covid-19 disaster, but he is now dealing with unconfirmed reports that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un may be dead.
Whether the United States government has confirmed if Kim Jong Un is dead or not, the fact that it remains unconfirmed, one way or the other, in the news media is clearly another example of the loss of the leadership the United States has lost under Trump.
North Korea is a threat to the United States and the uncertainty of who is in command of North Korea’s war machine gives rise to further uncertainty in the world. Additionally, Donald Trump was banking on resolving the Korean War debacle as a basis for his reelection and legacy. Calling Kim Jong Un a “friend” and extending unconventional diplomatic overtures was an attempt by Trump to curry favor from Kim Jong Un.
If Kim Jong Un is in fact dead, the Trump diplomatic overtures are dead on arrival.
Lost in all that is Trump’s continued threats against Iran. Rather than be cowed, Iran continues to defy Donald Trump.
On April 22 Iran put into orbit the “Noor-1” satellite, purported to be a military satellite. It remains unconfirmed whether the satellite is operational or not, but two things are important about the launch itself.
First, the launch was from an unestablished launch site meaning that Iran can establish launch sites at will and without much advance warning. This leads us to the second important issue, the launch vehicle can be a test bed for, and it is even possible to convert into a ballistic missile.
Iran is not allowed to develop ballistic military technology under UN prohibitions. In May 2018, Trump ordered the United States to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Prior to last Wednesday’s launch, Iran has argued that its space program was civilian in nature. Its recent launch was clearly military as Iran officially stated that.
Although it is not officially known whether Iran has developed a nuclear war capability it can easily pretend it has, like North Korea. North Korea’s possession of a nuclear capability is officially unknown; however most countries have reluctantly accepted it as a possible threat. Thus, Iran can become a nuclear power without proving its capability other then to tell the world about it.
The Iran rocket technology is a basis for further ballistic missile development. The fact that Iran announced the latest launch as a “military” launch demonstrates that Donald Trump has accepted defeat in controlling Iran’s military ambitions.