North Korea tests a nuclear device.
Combined with the previous failure, the North Koreans have enough data to gain important technical improvements in their design. The Washington Times notes that the first failure practically guaranteed another test, regardless of the state of relations between Pyongyang, Washington, and the rest of the six-party members. The failure almost certainly threatened the lives of the people in the program, mainly for the embarrassment it showered on Dear Leader. Now they have proven their design upgrades, which means that Pyongyang can proceed on a path of arming itself — and enriching itself by proliferating the designs and the weapons to others.
Michael Rubin at NRO
China continues to be the dog in the manger for effective steps against North Korea. As long as China is willing to prop up the North Korean regime, the regime will continue and China is likely to continue as long as its leaders see support for the North Korean regime as in their interests. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if China punishes North Korea in some public albeit temporary way in the next few days.
A Foreign Policy article by Morton Abramowitz from April:
Nuclear weapons are Kim Jong Il’s trump card. They get international attention. If U.S. President Barack Obama wants to make real progress on denuclearization, he must take a more comprehensive approach with North Korea under the umbrella of the six-party talks. In addition to pursuing denuclearization, he should opt for a radical change in relations: a peace treaty for the peninsula, the normalization of all political and economic relations, and a big economic package for the North, including increasing integration into the global economy. Only a major improvement in its overall situation might lead North Korea to consider some change in course and give up its nuclear weapons.
UPDATE: David Hazony at Commentary
Jerry Remmers at Moderate Voice.
UPDATE #3: Robert Farley
UPDATE #4: Joe Klein