President Obama is not pleased with North Korea. Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il has been a very naughty boy, for he has been caught playing with rockets. This morning’s failed satellite launch demonstrates that North Korea still has some way to go before it becomes capable of producing its own nuclear-armed ICBMs. That it is seeking such a capability is certainly not welcome news, but then again, we have some rather more tangible threats closer to home.
Not only is there Iran, which is developing nuclear weapons and has demonstrated an effective missile capability through the recent launch of its first satellite, but also there is Pakistan, which possesses both warheads and delivery systems. Pakistan is also developing an IRBM capability that would enable it to deliver nuclear weapons over a distance of 4,000 km or more. Pakistan is deeply unstable, and as population pressures grow, so will the appeals of an already strong militant Islamism. In all likelihood, it is only a matter of time before an Islamist regime takes power in the country. Muslim millenarianism equipped with such modern technology would be a truly fearsome prospect; at last, Islam would possess the means of ushering in its own version of the apocalypse.
Even if an Islamist regime does not establish itself in Pakistan, sympathetic elements within ISI could enable Islamists to acquire their own nuclear materials for deployment against non-Muslim nations. This to me is a rather more terrifying prospect than an ICBM-equipped North Korea. Admittedly, for the Japanese, things must look rather different.