North Korea’s third nuclear weapons test explosion, in defiance of its lone remaining ally, China, and the rest of the international community, should prompt a reappraisal of Beijing’s accommodating attitude toward its neighbor and rejuvenate U.S.-led diplomacy designed to freeze and reverse Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.
North Korea put a satellite into orbit Dec. 12, marking its first success in five tries over 14 years in launching a rocket with technology directly applicable to intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) development.
North Korea may have sold proliferation-sensitive materials to Myanmar and Syria in violation of UN Security Council sanctions, news organizations reported in November.
South Korea and the United States reached an agreement allowing Seoul to extend the range of its ballistic missiles. Both countries say the increase is necessary to counter the threat posed by North Korea’s missile capabilities.
North Korea’s continued construction of a light-water reactor (LWR) that experts say could be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium is “deeply troubling,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano said last month.
Although North Korea continues “actively to defy” UN Security Council resolutions, international sanctions “appeared to have slowed” the country’s activities in areas such as development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, according to a report to the UN Security Council on the implementation of the sanctions imposed by the resolutions.
China, Japan, and South Korea agreed not to “accept further nuclear tests or provocations from North Korea,” according to a May 13 statement by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Lee issued the statement from Beijing at the end of a trilateral meeting in May, which included a discussion of Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
Defying international warnings, North Korea on April 13 fired a three-stage Unha-3 rocket with the aim of launching a satellite into orbit. The rocket failed and exploded into about 20 pieces over the West Sea (Yellow Sea) between the Korean peninsula and China, according to South Korean military officials. The launch, in effect, shattered a Feb. 29 deal made with the United States on halting all missile and nuclear activities.
The press recently reported that the Pentagon is preparing options for President Barack Obama as part of the Nuclear Posture Review implementation study. The mere notion of restructuring U.S. nuclear forces unleashed panicked reactions from Capitol Hill’s most ardent nuclear weapons enthusiasts.
(Washington, D.C.) For the first time in 15 months the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) will hold talks with Iran on its nuclear program in Istanbul April 14. The meeting is expected to be the beginning of a series of talks rather than a single session over the weekend. The talks are likely to focus on Iran's enrichment to 20% as a confidence-building step toward broader progress on resolving the nuclear issue.