It is difficult to see what, if any, successes North Korea can secure out of its current course of actions. The unilateral withdrawal from the armistice, the positioning of large missiles mounted on mobile launchers, declaration of U.S. targets and targets around the Pacific, and the closure of Kaesong all seem to injure the North’s negotiating position.
Let us assume, therefore, that a Musudan rocket/missile firing, or a double shot, is not being prepared with the intent to eke some advantage out of successful test launches. Let us assume instead that the primary goal is failure – that the DPRK government or some part of it wants the U.S. and its allies to shoot the Musudans down.
What would be the ideal scenario, for all the interested parties?
At some point just around 10:00 a.m. a Musudan missile is fired from a location on North Korea's west coast. Assuming the missile flies – which is a question (Link) -- it climbs up into the sky and veers south-southeast.
The U.S. government is momentarily stunned by the launch, the known missile having being spotted on North Korea’s east coast. Given the prior North Korean threats of attacks on Okinawa and Guam and the surprise of a west coast launch, the order is given for a shoot down. By previous agreement, a U.S. Arleigh Burke class missile destroyer, with a Japanese Kongo class destroyer providing assistance, takes the first shot with its SM-3 missiles.
The North Korean missile is intercepted and falls in pieces over the East China Sea and Eastern Pacific.
The national security councils of affected nations are assembled. In Tokyo, the Cabinet is convened (luckily it was a Tuesday/Friday morning).
From Pyongyang – silence.
An hour and 15 minutes later, a second Musudan, the known one on North Korea's east coast, launches, with a course nearly due east. With missile's course taking it over Honshu and in the direction of the United States, the conditions are met for a Japanese shoot down. The Kirishima, a Kongo-class destroyer, in cooperation with a U.S. destroyer, fires an SM-3.
The intercept is again successful with the pieces of this second missile falling into the North Pacific.
Now it is the allies turn to fall silent, as they wait, on hair trigger, for what the North Koreans do next.
What the North Koreans do next is…nothing. Instead, inside Pyongyang, all hell is breaking loose, with the various ministries, offices and commands all yelling at each other, urging to further escalate, to pull back, to sue for peace, to demand total war, to flee to shelters…setting the stage for the young prince, wise beyond his years, to declare the prevailing war policy laudable in spirit but misguided and insufficient in practice – requiring a new way of thinking and acting.
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