In a public statement Thursday, North Korea announced the successful testing of several missiles this week and promised to continue launching missiles as "our legal right." Three policy experts discuss what is driving North Korea's defiant actions.
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The isolated communist nation that President Bush once labeled part of the axis of evil is back at the center of the world's attention. Despite warnings from the U.S. and neighbors China, Russia, Japan and South Korea, North Korea fired off several test missiles this week. They all landed harmlessly in the Sea of Japan.
But one, the long-range Taepodong-2 missile, is designed to be capable of reaching the United States. Today, in a televised statement, the Pyongyang regime threatened to launch more missiles, saying, "As a sovereign country, this is our legal right, and we are not bound by any agreements."
Earlier this week, the regime vowed to respond to any U.S. strike against its missile sites by unleashing its own "mighty nuclear deterrent."
With these defiant gestures and words, North Korea's 64-year-old leader, Kim Jong Il, again underscored his reputation for unpredictability. He's ruled North Korea since his father, Kim Il-Sung, died in 1994.