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AUGUST 23-30, 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 7/8

i n s i d e   l o o k
Trigger-Happy
There's a reason they call it rocket science

John Pike tracks North Korea's missile program as director of space policy for the Federation of American Scientists

How complicated is it for the North Koreans to build a long-range ballistic missile?
Rocketry is grotesquely difficult, which is why they respectfully call it rocket science. So the North Korean achievement is impressive, considering their vast poverty. Unlike anything they have flown before, the Taepo Dong-2 apparently has four motors in the first stage. That makes it much more difficult to build. Preventing vibration from one of the motors from interfering with another motor is not easy. And since it has a longer range than anything they have used before, it is a big challenge to get it remotely close to the target.

    ALSO IN TIME
North Korea: Neighborhood Bully
Pyongyang rattles nerves in the region with its new missile

Viewpoint
Build a nation, not an arsenal

How far advanced is North Korean missile technology?
It's roughly where America and Russia were in the late 1950s. But the ICBMs we were developing then were significantly bigger and more complex--and far more accurate.

Is North Korea a missile power?
Not really. It's difficult to get a missile to work once on a test range, but it is even more difficult to get it to work if you have a war one afternoon. The Taepo Dong-1 has flown only once, whereas in an American program you'd fly a missile 20 times before it's put into service. But this limited testing may be enough for the North Koreans, because they know how incredibly allergic we are to missiles and that it doesn't take much to get us scared.

--By Barry Hillenbrand

This edition's table of contents

AsiaNow


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WASHINGTON
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TIME:

COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

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WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state



ASIAWEEK:

COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness


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