News / Asia

    Analysts: N. Korea is Serious About New Nuclear Test

    People watch a TV news showing file footage of a North Korean rocket carried during a military parade, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, January 24, 2013.
    People watch a TV news showing file footage of a North Korean rocket carried during a military parade, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, January 24, 2013.
    North Korea's latest threat to conduct its third nuclear test and launch more long-range rockets is not just bluster but part of a deliberate effort by an increasingly confident Pyongyang to build up its atomic weapons capacity, analysts say.

    The National Defense Commission, the North's highest military body, said Thursday the planned moves include a series of satellite and long-range rocket launches as well as a nuclear test "of a higher level" targeting what it called its "arch enemy," the United States.

    It sharply rejected Tuesday's unanimous censure by the United Nations Security Council of North Korea's December 12 rocket launch as a violation of existing U.N. sanctions.

    White House spokesman Jay Carney condemned Pyongyang's announcement as "needlessly provocative" and said any further actions by North Korea would violate U.N. resolutions and increase the country's diplomatic isolation.

    Deliberate effort

    But according to former U.S. State Department official Mitchell Reiss, Washington should expect the North's new, untested leader, Kim Jong Un, to carry out the threats, which pose huge challenges not only for the United States, but his last remaining major ally, China.

    "Over the past few decades, there has been a very deliberate, methodical march by the North to develop, and eventually refine and perfect both its ballistic missiles and its nuclear capability.  So [a third nuclear test] is not a question of if, but when," said Reiss, who has years of private and public sector experience negotiating with the North Koreans.

    He said the purpose of an eventual third test would likely be to develop "a warhead small enough to be placed on a ballistic missile that could be delivered at long range."

    Punggye-ri, North Korea nuclear test sitePunggye-ri, North Korea nuclear test site
    x
    Punggye-ri, North Korea nuclear test site
    Punggye-ri, North Korea nuclear test site
    Recent satellite photos suggest North Korea has been preparing for a nuclear test, at the same Punggye-ri site where it conducted its previous tests in 2006 and 2009.

    "The preparations have been under way, so it's pretty clear that regardless of what the Security Council did, they were going to be deeply offended and decide on their test," said Ralph Cossa of the Hawaii-based Pacific Forum.

    South Korea's Defense Ministry Thursday said the facility could be ready to conduct a test at any time, if Kim decides to do so.

    Minutes before the latest threat, the U.S. special envoy on North Korea, Glyn Davies, told reporters in Seoul that North Korea should not carry out the test.

    Chinese wildcard

    A number of factors could influence when North Korea actually moves ahead with its plans, among them hard-to-define internal issues within the reclusive dictatorship as well as the behavior of South Korea and China.

    Reiss, who said Pyongyang's behavior is antagonizing Beijing, described China's endorsement of this week's United Nations resolution as part of an "increasing reassessment" by intellectuals, academics and the Chinese Communist Party "about the value and wisdom of keeping North Korea as the type of ally [it has been]."

    He said the Chinese have "significant influence" over North Korea both as an energy/food supplier and a "safety valve" source of temporary employment for North Korean workers.

    On Thursday, the North denounced the Chinese and Russian moves to join the U.N.'s condemnation of its December rocket launch.

    Some experts speculate Pyongyang's reference to an enhanced nuclear test means the North may now be capable of testing a weapon made from highly enriched uranium, rather than the plutonium devices used in the two previous tests.  In 2010, North Korea revealed a laboratory used for attempts to enrich uranium.

    The successful December missile launch in harsh winter conditions was a boon to Kim and likely boosted North Korea's confidence, said Reiss, who pointed to marked advances in the North's nuclear program with assistance from outside actors, including Iran.

    He declined to speculate on exactly when the next nuclear test may take place other than to say "no one but the North Koreans know what the timing will be."

    Mark Snowiss

    Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Goodbye Ketchup, Hello Sriracha!

    How immigrants are triggering a great transformation in American cuisine

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
        Next 
    by: NVO from: USA
    January 26, 2013 5:55 PM
    NK technology is a farce and sham. They just don't understand technology. Wiley Coyote ordering a rocket from Acme would have better luck. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    In Response

    by: Krish Mano from: india
    January 27, 2013 6:01 AM
    North Korea should restrain at the same time South Korea and USA should try to sort out differences with North Korea they should give assurance to North Korea regarding its external security.

    by: Anonymous
    January 26, 2013 2:17 AM
    NK is a sock puppet dynasty that has gone on for far too long.

    by: Michael from: USA
    January 25, 2013 4:47 AM
    Sanctions are forcing radical solutuions. Korean state leadership should follow international guidelines to feed the people. THE VICTIMS are potential activists that are slowly being starved to death

    by: Dr. Hizukami Maru from: Japan
    January 25, 2013 3:13 AM
    actually, my friends, this is a Japanese problem. But we are so weak and feeble that it is pathetic. we admire only one nation in the world and it is not the USA, it is Israel, and the more we learn of them the more we admire them. but i don't think we can ever be like them unfortunately, we are pitiful weak and we are ashamed of our past; we are ashamed of our alliance with Nazi Germany, that is why i think we are so pathetically weak today.

    by: Terrence Healy from: California
    January 24, 2013 6:50 PM
    We should demonstrate how we can blow up their missle as it launches or redirect their guidence system so it hits their capital.
    This is a long term mess created and funded by China and the Soviet Union. Short term solution, wait until the Leader and all his Generals assemble. Use a small Yield Neutron Weapon, End of Problem. Same in Iran. The world will be grateful, their own people will be grateful, we won't pay for it later. Currently the people of Syria are paying for the Soviet Unions blatant disregard of the use of military on Civilians. Something will have to be done at some point. Not taking action today will endanger millions of lives in the future. Our Government needs to stand up and free the world from The Tyranny that is left in the world.

    by: equalearth from: global
    January 24, 2013 5:58 PM
    the USA, France and GB carried out hundreds of nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s that's the precedent.....equalearth@twitter
    In Response

    by: kpitikos from: Las Vegas Nv
    January 26, 2013 4:05 PM
    Terrence.
    You said that the usa must stand and and free the world from this tyranny. YUO ARE RIGHT< let start from the Zionazis in Tel Aviv and The saudi Kingtom family . . Kowait Saba Brothers JORDANIAN kingdome. U. Emirates, And this is just few of them.. . OH SH>> I FORGET THEY ARE ALL OUR FRIENDS and we protect them.
    In Response

    by: kpitikos from: Las Vegas NV
    January 26, 2013 3:55 PM
    Terrence Healy.
    Go and ask how grateful the people of IRAQ and Afghanistan are After the USA destroyed their country.
    Ask them how grateful they are after the USA killed more than a million of their people included women and children.and the only excusse was that the 9/11 terrorists.. The only truth is the terrorists was from Saudi Arabia

    by: LevonTostig
    January 24, 2013 5:34 PM
    But, North Korea, Iran... Venezuela... these are tiny countries. They can't hurt us.

    It's as stupid now as it was when it was first said.

    by: Nataly from: USA
    January 24, 2013 5:29 PM
    well, we have incompetent Kenyan Islamic apostate ruling over us... we are propping up a sadistic Islamic terrorist organization in Egypt... no one trusts us any more... France Britain and Germany can't suppress an impulse to throw up every time they hear the name Obama... so why shouldn't the Koreans threaten us?? ""WHATS THE DIFFERENCE???""

    by: OldNassau from: Florida, USA
    January 24, 2013 4:57 PM
    In George Orwell's 1984, three world powers use each other to maintain their own regimes.. Kim uses threats against external enemies to maintain his own totalitarian power structure.. He would never attack the US: our retaliation would destroy him. I doubt if North Korea would ever even invade South Korea: Can you imagine the North's tightly controlled government trying to absorb fifty million South Koreans familiar with blue jeans, MacDonalds, and Democracy? Russia and China love having a mad dog barking at the US, but wold never let it out of its kennel.
    In Response

    by: Suven from: China
    January 26, 2013 2:56 AM
    There is a ocean between the USA and North Korea ,the North Korea need to live in their country ,they live in their stlye .why the others ask them to do this or not to do that at the othe side of the world.

    by: kafantaris from: USA, Ohio
    January 24, 2013 4:53 PM
    We ain’t scared of North Korea.
    Nobody should be of these fools.
    Comments page of 2
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora