Belmont Club

North Korea sends a message

VOA reports that North Korea has claimed a new nuclear weapons test.

North Korea says it has successfully conducted an underground nuclear test, defying international warnings and raising concerns over its nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang said Monday’s test was more powerful than the country’s first test two-and-a-half years ago. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency also reports that North Korea test-fired a short-range missile just hours after the nuclear test.


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Experts quoted by the Los Angeles Times put the blame squarely on the United States, for I suppose, not offering North Korea enough to desist from threatening the neighborhood.

As the international community condemned North Korea’s nuclear test and missile launch today, analysts said the tests signaled Pyongyang’s growing disillusionment over the U.S. refusal to conduct bilateral talks. North Korea’s ailing leader Kim Jong Il, determined to seek more drastic measures to bring the Obama Administration to the bargaining table, could even carry out more nuclear tests as a way to bully the U.S. and its allies, experts said today.

The question one faces when negotiating with regimes like North Korea is whether any level of protection money will ever satisfy it. A shopkeeper in a rough neighborhood who gives a thug money to go away and never to come back is sending the signal to come back. Extortion is North Korea’s main and only industry. Anything it receives is a “sale”. Why should it not want to sell more? One of the questions Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu asked was what the Obama administration would do if its attempts to contain the Iranian nuclear program by diplomacy failed. It may be recalled that Pakistan, a country whose stability has been questioned recently, is building two large plutonium reactors unconnected to the electricity grid. Most experts think the Pakistanis are radically increasing their nuclear warhead production capacity. The question is why and what that development portends. MSNBC reported:


Without any public U.S. reproach, Pakistan is building two of the developing world’s largest plutonium production reactors, which experts say could lead to improvements in the quantity and quality of the country’s nuclear arsenal, now estimated at 60 to 80 weapons. What makes the project even more threatening is that it is unique. “Pakistan is really the only country rapidly building up its nuclear forces,” says a U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the issue, noting that the nations that first developed nuclear weapons are now reducing their arsenals. … the billions in U.S. economic and military aid that have permitted Pakistan’s military to divert resources to nuclear and other weapons projects.

Is this North Korean test evidence that they can achieve a high order detonation now? How will the US respond, besides calling for an emergency meeting of the Security Council. What will Japan do?

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How’s that working out?

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