For the night of 12 December 2012
North Korea: Update. US sources report that the North Korean satellite is not in a stable orbit and is tumbling. This portion of the launch cycle failed.
Comment: The real concern of the US, Allied powers and the UN should be that this rocket is a working model of an Iranian ballistic missile. North Korea lacks the finances to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile without foreign support. North Korea never develops a weapons system unless it has a customer who fronts the primary finances
No open sources have reported, yet, the presence of Iranians at the launch, but they have reported Iranian technicians were observers of the April failed launch. This is the same system. Last week one news agency reported Iran has established a permanent military liaison office in North Korea.
More pertinent is the North's practices of financing developmental weapons systems. North Korean missile sales and arrangements with Syria, Pakistan, Iran and Libya showed that the North requires a customer to pay the development costs up front. North Korea has no money for this effort so it persuades a customer to pay before North Korea finalizes development. The customer in this instance is Iran.
Once the North develops a workable prototype, the North buys enough materials to make a missile for itself for every one it makes for the customer. The customer gets a working missile system and a finished launch complex before North Korea gets one, but the North ultimately does get one.
This is an alternative to Western practice. It is distributive and places the burdens of development costs on the customer, not on the developer.
NightWatch judges that North Korea launched an Iranian ballistic missile prototype on 12 December. North Korea and Iran will benefit from the science.
China: Chinese officials expressed "regret" about the North Korean rocket launch, but showed no signs that they would support tighter UN sanctions against the North or any other punitive measures.
Comment: North Korea defied UN sanctions with impunity. Chinese leaders did not denounce North Korea apparently because the launch did not cause instability in northeast Asia.
Syria: News sources reported Syrian government forces fired six SCUD ballistic missiles at rebel targets on 12 December. This is the first time that SCUDs have been used.
Comment: SCUDs are very inaccurate missiles, which means the Syrians are targeting large area targets to inflict large numbers of casualties. SCUDs are highly effective in delivering weapons of mass destruction, meaning chemical weapons, but only kinetic attacks have been reported.
SCUDs have always been a near last resort weapon for the Syrian government because their number is limited and they are not replaceable under current security conditions. They are "use or lose" weapons. That means the regime is running out of resources. Almost any other weapons system would be more effective than SCUD missiles in fighting an uprising.
Egypt: Update. Egypt's electoral commission announced on 12 December that the referendum on the draft constitution will take place on 15 and 22 December.
The National Salvation Front, composed of leftist, liberal and nationalist forces, called on Egyptians to vote "no" in the national referendum on Egypt's draft constitution.
End of NightWatch for 12 December.
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