KCNA confirms: Pudgy sets off a nuke
WASHINGTON -- North Korea confirmed on Tuesday that it had conducted its third, long-threatened nuclear test, according to the official K.C.N.A. news service, posing a new challenge for the Obama administration in its effort to keep the country from becoming a full-fledged nuclear power.
|With double-plus good hand-wringing from the NYT. Nothing can be done, nothing we do works, so we might as well just go along and accept it.|
The K.C.N.A. said the North used a "miniaturized and lighter nuclear device with greater explosive force than previously" and that the test "did not pose any negative impact on the surrounding ecological environment."
Early Tuesday morning in Washington the office of the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., issued a statement suggesting the North Koreans were, on their third try, beginning to produce nuclear devices with substantial explosive power. "The explosion yield was approximately several kilotons," the announcement said, which was less specific than a South Korean Defense Ministry estimate of six to seven kilotons. That would be far greater than the yield of less than one kiloton detected in the North's 2006 test, but it is unclear how it would measure up to the last test, in 2009, which had estimated yield of two to six kilotons. By comparison, the first bomb the United States dropped on Japan, which devastated Hiroshima in 1945, had an explosive yield of 15 kilotons.
|'Miniaturized and lighter' may not mean what we would take it to mean: a device that could be mounted on a missile. But I'll bet that's what the Norks want us to think.|
The test drew a crescendo of
|Six kilotons can still ruin your day...|predictable and ineffectual international condemnation Tuesday, with President Obama calling it a "highly provocative act" that demands "swift and credible action by the international community" against North Korea.
Russia, Britain, South Korea and the United Nations also quickly condemned the blast. The head of the international nuclear watchdog called the test "deeply regrettable" and the United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting at 9 a.m. in New York to take up the matter.
|Really? Like what, exactly...|
Preliminary estimates by South Korea suggested that the test was much more powerful than the previous two conducted by the North.
|At which time the Security Council will agree that the test was 'deeply regrettable'. By the time they do that it will be time for lunch...|
The test is the first under the country's new leader,
|Since those two were, in essence, partial fissiles...|Fat Boy Kim Jong-un, and an open act of defiance to the Chinese, who had urged Pudgy Mr. Kim not to risk open confrontation by setting off the weapon. In a relatively muted statement issued several hours after the blast, China expressed its "staunch opposition" to the test but called for "all parties concerned to respond calmly." And it was unclear how China would act at the Security Council meeting on Tuesday.
The nuclear test, came the same day Mr. Obama is to use his State of the Union address to call for drastically reducing nuclear arms around the world, potentially bringing the number of deployed American weapons to roughly 1,000 from the current 1,700.
|Did the Chinese close the railway at the border? Did they turn off the spigot at the State Bank? Unless and until they do those things, everything they say is for consumption by gullible Western leaders, diplomats and the media and certainly not an indication that they are displeased with their lap dog. The Chinese consider western leaders to be saps, and unfortunately they're mostly correct in that assessment...|
Even before the North conducted Tuesday's test, the Obama administration had already threatened to take additional action to penalize the country through the United Nations.
|Good idea. Cut the number of American devices the same day the Norks explode their first uranium device. The world will get the message, you bet it will...|
But the fact is that there are few sanctions left to apply against the most unpredictable country in Asia. The only penalty that would truly hurt the North would be a cutoff of oil and other aid from China. And until now, despite issuing warnings, the Chinese have feared instability and chaos in the North more than its growing nuclear and missile capability, and the Chinese leadership has refused to participate in sanctions.
|Said another way, the Chinese are pleased with what the Norks are doing and are simply being duplicitous in their relations with the West...|Suet Face Mr. Kim, believed to be about 29, appears to be betting that even a third test would not change the Chinese calculus, and later Tuesday, the North Korean Foreign Ministry warned of "second and third measures of greater intensity" if Washington remains hostile.
The test set off a scramble among Washington's Asian allies to assess what the North Koreans had done.
|By which he means, if we refuse to provide food aid...|
The United States sent aloft aircraft equipped with delicate sensors that may, depending on the winds, be able to determine whether it was a plutonium or uranium weapon. The Japanese defense minister, Itsunori Onodera, said Japan had ordered the dispatch of an Air Self-Defense Force jet to monitor for radioactivity in Japanese airspace. Japan's new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, told Parliament that the country was considering "its own actions, including sanctions, to resolve this and other issues."
But the threat may be largely empty, because trade is limited and the United States and its allies have refrained from a naval blockade of North Korea or other steps that could revive open conflict, which has been avoided on the Korean Peninsula since an armistice was declared 60 years ago.
|If you want to resolve it, suggest ever so obliquely that your country may have to assemble and test nuclear devices of its own. That will get a response from the Chinese, I guarantee it.|
It may take days or weeks to determine independently if the test, was successful.
|It's an unfortunate fact of life, one that we've commented on extensively in the past here at the Burg: Seoul is within artillery distance of the North Koreans. The Norks do not need a nuke, they just need to threaten to start firing from the ten thousand plus tube and missile launchers they have aimed south. That, not a nuclear test, is what stops us from doing anything overt to shut down the Norks.|
American officials will also be looking for signs of whether the North, for the first time, conducted a test of a uranium weapon, based on a uranium enrichment capability it has been pursuing for a decade. The past two tests used plutonium, reprocessed from one of the country's now-defunct nuclear reactors. While the country has only enough plutonium for a half-dozen or so bombs, it can produce enriched uranium well into the future.
|It already has been. There's seismic evidence. The South Koreans call it a six kiloton device. The world has noticed. The Norks have accomplished everything they set out to do.|
After the detonation, the K.C.N.A. news agency said that the test demonstrated that North Korea's nuclear deterrence that has become "diversified." South Korean officials said they were studying whether it meant that North Korea had actually used highly enriched uranium for bomb fuel, rather than plutonium.
No country is more interested in the results of the North's nuclear program, or the Western reaction, than Iran, which is pursuing its own uranium enrichment program. The two countries have long cooperated on missile technology, and many intelligence officials believe they share nuclear knowledge as well, though so far there is no hard evidence.
Iran is preparing for two important sets of negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations's nuclear regulatory body, starting in on Wednesday, and later this month with the six world powers seeking to curb its nuclear program.
|Other than the hundreds of Nork scientists and engineers in Iran, the extensive communications back and forth, the Iranian tech people in Pyongyang, and the complete cooperation on missile tech. Nope, no hard evidence at all says the NYT!|
Yukiya Amano, the director general of the I.A.E.A., which is based in Vienna, said in a statement on Tuesday that North Korea's action was "deeply regrettable and is in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions."
|Which will work about as well as the IAEA's efforts to curb North Korea...|
He also offered to "contribute to the peaceful resolution" of the North Korean nuclear issue by "resuming its nuclear verification activities in the country as soon as the political agreement is reached among countries concerned."
|Thanks for that Mr. Amano. What a hard hitting statement. Lunch?|
The timing of the test was critical. It came just as a transition of power is about to take place in South Korea, and the North detested the South's departing president, the hard-line Lee Myung-bak. By conducting a test just before he leaves office, the North could have been sending a message and giving his successor, Park Geun-hye, the chance to restore relations after the breach a test will undoubtedly cause.
|Which will occur around the twelfth of Never...|
While intelligence officials in Washington and Seoul are jittery about the North's progress, there is still no proof that it has yet mastered the difficult technology of miniaturizing bombs so they can be fitted to ballistic missiles.
|If Park is smart she'll reject that nonsense, seal the border, do everything she can to ignore the blandishments from the North and make sure her military -- and her countrymen -- are ready.|
But arms experts declared a recent rocket launching a success, suggesting the country was making advances that could eventually allow it to lob a nuclear-tipped missile as far as the United States mainland.
|But instead of doing anything about it now we'll wait until the Norks have a basketball-sized device. Then we'll wring our hands, proclaim it to be too late to do anything, and blame George Bush.|
Posted by: Steve White