"With the presidential elections in the U.S. and South Korea, they have been sidelined for a while. Pyongyang wants a deal at the negotiating table. They are stripped from food and cash. So this launch was carefully calculated. If they rattle Japan by shooting it past over Okinawa and with a range enough to reach the U.S., they knew that success in and of itself is substantial leverage," said Sung-Min Jang, a North Korea specialist with close ties to that country.
North Korea under late-Kim Jong Il took a "military-first" policy putting interest of the military above economics. This year, there were hopes that Kim Jong Un, educated in Switzerland, would carry out a different rational approach. But analysts say Pyongyang is still ruled by communist party elders and Kim Jong Un remains more of a "puppet" and a "symbolic figure."
"He is completely influenced by capitalism growing up playing with Swiss-made, Japanese-made toys. He enjoyed a more lavish life than any other rich South Korean kid. But simply put, he is not a decision maker, yet," said Jang.
If this launch does not generate a new round of negotiations, North Korean military is expected to push on with its nuclear ambitions with an underground nuclear test. It would show that they have the capability to set off a nuclear explosion. They have reportedly conducted plant-processed plutonium-based tests twice, both just months after missile launches in 2006 and 2009. Intelligence sources have indicated that they are now working on and capable of testing a highly-enriched uranium-based test any time soon in Gilju, North Hamkyung Province.