North Korea and Iran are like siblings, constantly fighting for attention. As soon as the U.S. focuses on one, the other starts crying. The most recent development is the North’s planned Nuke test. North Korea has long claimed to have atomic weapons, but they have never been able to present concrete evidence to back up those claims.
Either way, a nuclear test by North Korea is serious. Kim Jong Il seems to have become more aggressive since he left the Six Party Talks earlier this year, after being accused of counterfeiting U.S. currency. Fortunately for us, North Korea seems to be standing alone. Even China, North Korea’s closest ally, has agreed that a Nuclear North Korea is unacceptable.
A test by the North, particularly a successful one, could have huge ramifications. If the North does conduct a successful test of a Nuclear device, Japan could very well decide to begin a nuclear program of their own. Taiwan could follow up by restarting a nuke research program, which is about the last thing China wants. Pakistan and India could also begin tests, which could cause Iran to increase their development, which, in turn, could cause Israel to develop weapons of their own.
The U.S. is in a tough spot. Even if we were to seek sanctions, it begs the question “how do you sanction starving people?” The most effective way to prevent escalation is to guarantee Kim Jong Il that any nuclear test outside of North Korean soil, or any passage of weapons to terrorists would result in our turning Ponyang into a crater.