North Korea seems very insistent on testing President Obama. Apparently, the U.S. government is tracking a North Korean freighter suspected of carrying illicit arms.
Government officials say they will act within the bounds of a recent UN Security Council resolution which permits international navies to request the inspection of North Korean cargo vessels but does not give them the right to board. If the North Korean ship docks in a foreign port, the local authorities have broadened inspection rights.
North Korea has said any attempt to board a North Korean vessel would be considered an act of war. This threat likely explains Secretary of Defense Robert Gatesâ€™ order to increase Hawaiiâ€™s defenses against a possible incoming long-range missile.
Gatesâ€™ order is almost certainly done out of an abundance of caution and not because the U.S. is planning to take action against the North Korean vessel. However, North Korea is not known as a rational actor and there is very real reason to worry even a small provocation could escalate quickly.
Iâ€™m not sure what North Koreaâ€™s endgame is, but the nationâ€™s recent actions have been more than a little alarming. Hopefully things will simmer down. The world has enough to worry about already.