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Dec 12th 2012, 16:45 by Economist.com
North Korea’s rockets
ON DECEMBER 12th Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea’s tin-pot regime, caught his own people and the rest of the world off-guard by launching an Unha-3 rocket into space and possibly putting a rudimentary satellite into orbit. The timing, just before the first anniversary of the death of his rocket-loving father, Kim Jong Il, appeared to be aimed primarily at solidifying the young Mr Kim’s leadership, as well as bolstering his popularity among his oppressed subjects. Beforehand, news of the proposed launch was censored in North Korea, possibly because of the embarrassment that ensued in April, when a previous Unha-3 rocket flopped in front of the world’s media. Today’s success was broadcast with great fanfare. Experts said the same technology it takes to put a 100kg satellite into orbit could be the first step towards firing an intercontinental ballistic missile with an equivalent payload at America, provided that North Korea could also master re-entry and accuracy.
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