Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The North Korean test

Q. Why did North Korea decide to carry out a second underground nuclear test (the first one was in 2006) now?
A. Joshua Pollack points to the North Korean foreign ministry's April 29 statement warning that such a test would occur if the UN Security Council did not rescind its condemnation of a previous missile launch.

Q. Why has South Korea now decided to become a full member of the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)?
A. Not sure. Considering that North Korea has said that such a move would be tantamount to a declaration of war against it by the South, and considering that North Korean statements cannot be dismissed as empty rhetoric (see above), the South Korean move would appear to be somewhat risky -- not because it will lead directly to a North Korean attack (though such a possibility cannot be totally excluded) but because it will ratchet up tensions further.


Anonymous said...

North Korea's testing is a cause of concern for Japan as well. Some are advocating that the latter ought to jettison the peace constitution. Looks like North Korea's actions will strengthen the hands of Japanese nationalists who want a much more militarily assertive Japan.

LFC said...

Yes, interesting point. I just saw Brzezinski and Philip Zelikow discussing this (and nuclear issues generally) on the NewsHour. Despite some differences in emphasis, they both seemed to think North Korea had now effectively foreclosed a resumption of the 6-party talks or other diplomatic avenues. Brzezinski said he feared North Korea might be in the grip of "political dementia." This kind of comment I think actually is not very helpful, apart from whether it's accurate. But the situation on the Korean peninsula and environs is indisputably more worrisome now than it has been in quite a while.