News

Analysts: North Korea Situation Seen Spiraling Toward Nuclear Test

William Ide

North Korea’s decision last week to press ahead with a missile launch, despite international warnings, is raising tensions once again in the region.  Just months after becoming the country's new leader, Kim Jong Un faces a choice to either continue testing the will of the international community or take a different path.

Massive celebrations Sunday in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, marked the birthday of the reclusive country's founder, Kim Il Sung, and the beginning of a new rule under Kim Jong Un.

For now, the young Kim appears to be moving in lock step with his late father, Kim Jong Il.  And after last week's missile launch there is growing concern a nuclear test could be next.

"We have seen this pattern in the past, where they have a missile launch, the rest of the world has responded and rather than to compromise or to negotiate, the North has taken another provocative action and in several instances, in two instances the provocative action has been an attempt at a nuclear test," said former CIA Director Michael Hayden.

Hayden says some believe the untested new leader's actions may be an attempt to show his strength.  But others say the missile launch -- just weeks after an announced agreement not to carry out such tests and to stop nuclear development in return for food aid -- may have been inevitable.

"Both the missile test and the food aid from the United States were set in motion by Kim Jong Un's father, Kim Jong Il, and that Kim Jong Un is not yet quite strong enough in his own position to have turned off either since they were both started by his father," Hayden said.

The United Nations has condemned the launch, and warned of further consequences if Pyongyang carries out another launch or a nuclear test.

The situation appears to be slipping back into a cycle of what analysts say typically leads to more provocations from the North -- in the hope it can get more concessions during nuclear-development negotiations.

But Victor Cha, who was White House Asian Affairs director during the George W. Bush administration, says the U.S is unlikely to show more patience with North Korea. “I think that they are just going to focus on sanctions, and counter proliferation and military exercising, essentially a containment strategy is where they are headed.  Certainly at least for the remainder of this administration," Cha said.

With upcoming elections in the United States and South Korea, and a leadership change about to occur in China, analysts say domestic issues in those countries will have a higher priority than North Korea.

"In today’s political environment I think it is very hard for any administration or any of the parties involved to really try something different. To try to break out of this sort of downward spiral that we've fallen into," Cha said.

Analysts say it is clear there is little optimism for the situation to improve soon, especially in a year the North has aims to become a nuclear state.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jonathan Huang
April 21, 2012 10:49 PM
US didnt say single word to India's nuclear test and rocket launch but put all the sanction on NK. what a double standard.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs