As is its habit, the Israeli media missed this week's big story. While our television channels, mass circulation dailies and publicly funded radio stations were scope-locked on the tragedy of children in Gaza killed and injured because they were being used as human shields by the terrorists pummeling Sderot and the Western Negev with rockets and mortars, the world took a step toward nuclear confrontation.
This week the crisis was fomented not by Iran but by its ally North Korea, as Pyongyang made loud preparations ahead of the test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Unlike previous missiles tested, the Taepodong-2 has a 15,000 km range capable of hitting the West Coast of the United States.
North Korea's latest strategic gambit is highly significant for Israel. Its import stems from its relevance for Israeli strategists tasked with crafting a policy to contend with Iran's nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programs. If Israel draws the proper lessons from the current crisis with North Korea, it will take the necessary steps to better position itself against Iran's developing threat. By so repositioning itself, while enhancing its national security, Israel would strengthen the forces in the US and Europe calling for the jihadist, genocidal Iranian regime to be confronted rather than appeased.
An international storm broke out as soon as North Korea's preparations to launch its Taepodong-2 missile and thus directly threaten America became known. For the first time, the US activated its ground based missile defense shield. The US Navy conducted the largest naval carrier group exercise since the Vietnam War, off the coast of Guam. Three carrier groups participated.
US Ambassador to Japan Thomas Scheiffer said that from America's perspective, "All options are on the table" if North Korea launches the missile. On Thursday, two former senior defense officials from the Clinton administration published an op-ed in The Washington Post urging the Bush administration to launch a cruise missile attack against the missile on its launch pad.
On Wednesday, Japan - which has been operating under the threat of North Korean missiles since Pyongyang tested a Taepodong-1 missile over Japan in 1998 - deployed ships and planes toward North Korea to closely monitor developments. For their part, the South Koreans - who have lived under the threat of destruction at the hands of North Korean artillery pointed at Seoul for the past several decades - announced the cancellation of former president Kim Dae Jung's planned visit to the North. Unification Minister Lee Jong Seok said that a missile launch would force Seoul to curtail food aid to North Korea.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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