Washington’s special envoy on North Korea, Glyn Davies, warns that a nuclear test would be “a mistake and a missed opportunity” for North Korea.
The isolated totalitarian state of North Korea is threatening new nuclear tests in the wake of a unanimous vote on Tuesday by the U.N. Security Council to condemn the launch of a satellite last month. Time reports that the Security Council has stated that the launch was “banned under previous resolutions,” and has moved to strengthen the already existing sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The New York Times reports that a statement by the National Defense Commission, which is the DPKR’s highest governing agency and is headed by the country’s current dictator Kim Jong-un, was issued through the state-run media today. It says,
That a variety of satellites and long-range rockets which will be launched by the D.P.R.K. one after another and a nuclear test of higher level which will be carried out by it will be targeted at the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people.
It is not clear yet when this test may take place, but citing preparations at the Punggye test cite in northeastern North Korea, deputy spokesman of the Defense Ministry of South Korea Army Colonel Wi Yong-seob said, “North Korea can conduct a nuclear test as soon as its leadership makes up its mind.”
China, who is the only major ally of the DPRK, went along with the UN decision, and according to Reuters their Foreign Ministry has called for “restraint” and a return to six-party talks. Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, speaking to reporters at a regular press briefing said,
We hope the relevant party can remain calm and act and speak in a cautious and prudent way and not take any steps which may further worsen the situation.
These statements have been met with bitterness by North Korea. According to the Times the DPRK has denounced both China and Russia for their support of the UN resolution. They accuse “those big countries” of “failing to come to their senses.” Officials from North Korea now say that the drive to rebuild its stagnant economy and its rocket program, which until now they claimed was a “peaceful space project,” will now “all orientate toward the purpose of winning in the all-out action for foiling the U.S. and all other hostile forces’ maneuvers.”
Many experts speculate that one date to keep an eye on for this new nuclear test is February, 16, which is the birthday of Kim Jong-un’s father, the late Kim Jong-Il, who was the North Korean leader until his death in December, 2011.
Although up to this point it may seem that Kim Jong-un is a lot of talk and not a lot of action, there may be cause for genuine concern. The recent reports by Western intelligence agencies concerning the new generation of mobile rockets that are apparently operational and are scattered throughout the countryside, and the fact that Kim Jong-un has some very large shoes to fill, it may be possible and even likely that he could be shamed into doing something drastic to prove that he deserves his exulted position. He was the youngest of Kim Jong-il’s sons, the least well known, and no one expected that he would take his fathers place. It is possible that both the international attention he has received and the scrutiny of his fathers supporters in the regime may make him more dangerous than people realize.
Do you think there is a legitimate danger from Kim Jong-un, or is he all bark and no bite?
What do you think would be the appropriate response to more nuclear testing by North Korea?