How North Korea’s rocket launch could affect Canada’s security

As residents of North Korea danced in the streets after the country apparently succeeded in launching a satellite into orbit, Canadians joined the rest of the international community in questioning what the breach of United Nations' restrictions would mean going forward.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has confirmed North Korea's launch appeared to send something into orbit. NORAD further said that, "at no time was the missile or the resultant debris a threat to North America."

Foreign affairs on North Korea and SyriaCBC interview with Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird

[ Related: U.N. Security Council condemns North Korea launch ]

Still, a successful missile launch by North Korea was being taken seriously by Canada, part of the international community that roundly condemned the launch.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in a statement:

Canada urges North Korea to cease this reckless behaviour and to live up to its international obligations.

Canada stands with the international community in condemning this reprehensible act.

It always seems to be something with North Korea. If it is not unicorn lairs being discovered, it is something else, and possibly with sinister motives. The satellite launch is believed to have been a cover to test North Korea's missile-launch systems.

That ability, combined with the technology to make a nuclear missile small enough to launch, would make North Korea's constant threats immediately concerning.

North America would be among the first targets to be threatened. Canada has little recourse to stop that from happening, save expanding its sanctions and further isolate the nation.

The U.N. imposed heavy penalties against North Korea when it conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. Canada further imposed its own sanctions in 2011 after the country's last fit of aggression — the sinking of a South Korean naval ship.

All imports and exports with North Korea are currently prohibited by Canada, with few and rare exceptions. It is tough to say if stronger sanctions could possibly be established, but Baird's swift reaction to the launch makes it seem likely the government is willing to try.

Of course, North Korea's most likely target would be South Korea, a close ally of Canada's and a country where we are planning to establish a permanent military presence.

Canada was among the countries that supported South Korea during the Korean War, and as part of the U.N. signed the armistice agreement that put a halt to the violence in 1953.

Canada's ties to South Korea means our troops could technically be called on should violence resume on the Korean peninsula, as the Canadian Press reported in the wake of North Korea's most recent nuclear test.

[ Related: North Korea rocket launch raises nuclear stakes ]

Since that test, leader Kim Jong-il passed away and his son, Kim Jong-un took the reins. The Associated Press suggests that the timing of the satellite launch was meant to mark the anniversary of Kim Jong-il's death

The former ruler had coveted a successful satellite launch before his death on Dec. 17, 2011. Jean H. Lee, AP's Korea bureau chief, said the rocket has been celebrated in his honour.

The launch also comes after Canada's U.N. ambassador called Kim's death a chance for the country to change its course. North Korea's envoy bristled, stating that his name is synonymous with the country's great achievements.

The totalitarian regime leading North Korea doesn't seem to be the kind to forgive and forget. Perhaps another reason Canada should keep an eye on what comes next.