Category Archives: Japan

Unha-2 Revisited

A “hot item”: by Craig Covault is all the talk right now:

North Korean rocket flew further than earlier thought
Posted: April 10, 2009

New details emerging from the analysis of data from North Korea’s April 5 Taepo-Dong-2 test indicate the vehicle flew successfully several hundred miles further than previously believed and used more advanced steering than has been demonstrated by the North Korean’s before.

The rocket impacted as far as 2,390 miles from the launch site as opposed to about 1,900 miles as earlier announced by the U. S. and Japan.

Smoke puffs from the side of the vehicle at the moment of liftoff and after, indicate the rocket could have been equipped with attitude control thrusters.

It also temporarily flew in space before failing and dropping back into the atmosphere at relatively slow speed that enabled debris to survive till impact rather than burning up.

If I’m not mistaken, this is the second time that the distance flown has been revised upward.

Do “check it out”: — there are a number of new details here.

In Praise of the Japanese Press

I was curious to see if anyone had this story earlier; apparently not. But oh, what I did find! Possibly we here in Hmerica don’t pay enough attention to the Japanese press. Even a week ago, Tokyo reporters had all kinds of details that have yet to make the _New Wall York Washington Street Times Journal Post_, so far as I’ve noticed.

No excuses, folks: it’s on the web, and it’s in English.

This “April 4 article”: by Kuniichi Tanida in _Asahi Shimbun_ clues us in to the vast network of sensors around Japan, including this now-infamous one, which turns out to have been brand-spanking-new:

bq. The Defense Ministry also completed installation of FPS-5 radar on Shimokoshikijima island in Kagoshima Prefecture in March. The radar began operating Wednesday and will transmit information about the launch to the Aegis destroyers and the units operating the PAC-3 missiles.

A number of Japanese wire reports on “late”: “April 4”: and newspaper reports on “April 5”: reveal that Japan suffered not one but _two_ false missile-launch warnings. One also reveals that the FPS-5 has earned the nickname “Gamera”:

“Told ya”: Well, sort of.

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(“Ginormous golf ball”:, eat your heart out.)

This “April 10 commentary”: by Tetsuya Harada also reports a series of snafus related to the positioning of Patriot batteries:

A PAC-3 system being moved from Hamamatsu Air Base to Camp Akita in Akita Prefecture was driven down the wrong road and onto a baseball field and damaged property as it was driven back to the right road, ending up stuck at the scene of the accident for more than three hours.


To prepare for the recent missile launch, the SDF deployed PAC-3 missiles to five other locations, including SDF camps in Akita and Iwate prefectures and the Defense Ministry compound in Ichigaya, Tokyo, after anticipating the possible path of a North Korean missile. However, part of the missile’s path appears to have been outside the range of the PAC-3s.

Who knew? But the pick of the litter has to be this “April 7 article”: by Hidemichi Katsumata and Shozo Nakayama of _Yomiuri Shimbun_. It’s a proverbial gold mine of information on the flight profile and tracking of the Unha-2. “Check it out”:

Rimz of Mass Destruction

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Aw, yeah. Wheels and centrifuges — two things that spin. I’ll bet you never made this connection before, but it’s just one anecdote short of a certified “trend story”:;1,r;1&rowstart=1&rows=25.

Anecdote #1: Horkos

Earlier this month, the (Tokyo) Metropolitan Police Department teamed up with their Hiroshima counterparts — yes, Hiroshima — to “take down”: four current and former employees of the “Horkos Corp.”: It seems they had been selling advanced “machining centers”: to Chinese and South Korean auto makers, while misrepresenting the capabilities of the devices to Japan’s “export control authorities”:

Word has it that some of the same devices used to make precision auto parts can be used to make precision uranium centrifuge parts. And they sold what sounds like “a lot of them”:

The men are specifically accused of falsifying export customs declarations in November 2004 and September 2006 for 16 machining centres shipped to China and South Korea, according to a _Mainichi Daily_ report. The newspaper added that Horkos is thought to have exported some 600 machining centres to China and South Korea since 2002.

Note that this is a new development in an “old”: “story”:

(Purely for your edification, here’s a “faintly obscene animation of a flow-forming machine at work”: For the record, I’m not sure whether this is actually the type of device at issue in the Horkos case, but I’ll do what it takes to hold your attention.)

Anecdote #2: Iran Khodro

The “Iran Khodro Industrial Group”: is Iran’s biggest car maker, until recently the manufacturer of the “iconic”: “Paykan”: They make Peugeots on license. Reportedly “in response to a recent government mandate”:, Iran Khodro has leapt to the very frontiers of global automotive technology, producing new “gasoline-compressed natural gas (CNG) hybrid vehicles”:

One variety was “exhibited in Geneva”: earlier this month.

But as it turns out, those CNG tanks are made from carbon fiber, which is “illegal to export to Iran”: It’s the same stuff that “Iran’s new-model centrifuge rotors”: are made from. Oops. Or Hmm.

[Update: Paul is “on top of the story”:]

(Incidentally, “this AP item”: seems to contain the first mention anywhere of the IR-4 centrifuge.)

“M. Collin”:, appelez votre bureau.

(Hey, it turns out that the Iraqi EMIS test facility was disguised as a “military automotive repair shop”: Well, close, but not quite the trifecta I was hoping for.)

Enough already. It’s “musical bonus”: time!

(You were expecting the Gary Numan song, weren’t you? Don’t worry, I’ve got “that, too”:

Update: It turns out that this is “old news”:

Japan and Nuclear Weapons Options, Part Deux

Just one thing to add to “Jeffrey’s excellent post”: about Japan’s nuclear weapons potential…

According to a 1999 DIA primer on future threats (which can be found “here”:, Germany and Japan “could develop a nuclear warhead within a year should the political decision be made to pursue such capability.”