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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: Thinkingoutloud from: USA
January 24, 2013 4:46 PM
It seems to me the answer is easy... declare North Korea part of China.. and throw in a piece of the China sea with it to help absorb the related costs.

In Response

by: Thinkingloud from: USA
January 25, 2013 12:22 AM
Yeah and then we'll just continue doing business with China after that happens right? That'd make things less easy for us.


by: Gene from: San Clemente, CA
January 24, 2013 4:45 PM
I would take their threat as a war threat. Hope we have to guts like Israel and make a preemptive strike... and soon!


by: Anonymous
January 24, 2013 4:45 PM
This coming from a pimply faced leader that is addicted to porn and video games. What does the rest of the civilized world expect from a nation state that starves it's citizens and jails entire families for speaking out against it's officials. Funny how his father denounced western society but his final ride was in a coffin on top of a state owned and restored 1962 Lincoln Continental.


by: Dewayne from: St Louis, Mo. USA
January 24, 2013 4:39 PM
Well one things for sure, you don't have to worry about our President Obama doing anything about and I think that's part of the problem all around the world!

Comments page of 2
 Previous    

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid