North Korea conducted its first-ever nuclear test yesterday, or at least claimed that it was a successful test of a nuclear bomb. The non-proliferation regime is falling apart, but the international community cannot do anything about it. Yesterday's news from N.Korea showed that it could only careless about USA’s concerns, criticism from neighbouring countries and threats to impose economic sanctions. Pyongyang also disregards Russia’s attempts not to let the conflict take a military form. North Korea is not afraid of punishment and shows no reaction to suggestions of compromise.
There are experts who think that North Korea is simply bluffing. Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov assured President Putin, though, that there was a nuclear explosion on North Korea’s territory indeed. The A-bomb blew up about 200 kilometers far from Russian borders.
“Russia obviously condemns the nuclear tests conducted by North Korea. The test caused immense damage to the non-proliferation process in the whole world. Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush had a telephone conversation later, during which they discussed possible actions to be taken against N.Korea after the nuclear tests. The Russian president set out a hope that North Korea would eventually agree to resume peace talks regarding its nuclear program.
Russia, the USA, China, Japan and South Korea agreed to develop a single stance regarding North Korea. Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that the USA had submitted a tough draft resolution about North Korea to the UN Security Council.
The USA supposedly offers to impose strict economic sanctions against North Korea and use military methods of influence against the country. The Pentagon already considers a possibility to send several vessels of its naval forces to the N.Korean coast. A high-ranking US official said on conditions of anonymity that it was not going to be a blockade. The USA would like to inspect all vessels traveling in and out of North Korea, the official added.
Vitaly Churkin stated that there could be no military methods used against N.Korea although it goes about global security and the preservation of the nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime. USA’s Ambassador to UN John Bolton explained that the US administration submitted several elements of the draft resolution about N.Korea to the UN Security Council. The document, Bolton said, was developed under the guidance of Chapter VII of the UN Charter stipulating the use of sanctions in the event there is a threat to international peace and security. Bolton added that he was pleasantly surprised with the unanimous point of view in the UN Security Council when no one tried to defend North Korea.
The chairman of the Russian Council for Foreign and Defense Politics, Sergei Karaganov, said that N.Korean nuclear tests proved that the USA was not the leader in the talks with the hard-line country. “The tests struck the most serious blow on Washington’s international image first and foremost. It caused damage to China too, which tried to support the North Korean regime in all possible ways. “Several countries of the Middle East, Iran first and foremost, gained another incentive to develop their own nuclear weapon. This is an extremely dangerous trend,” the Russian scientist of politics said.
It is not ruled out that North Korea will try to conduct another nuclear test. Sources from South Korea say that they can still notice activity on the range ground in N.Korea.
Most likely, yesterday’s nuclear explosion was supposed to mark the ninth anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s election as the Secretary General of the North Korean Labour Party.
Despite the international scandal caused with the nuclear tests, many Russian experts doubt that North Korea tested a ready-made atomic weapon. “At first we must make sure that it was a nuclear explosion but not an imitation of it,” a professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vasili Mikheyev said. “It does not matter if North Korea is bluffing or not. The international community needs to use the situation to develop a single position against North Korea that frightens the world with nuclear weapons. This position has to be based on tough measures connected with an intensive political pressure and sanctions,” Mikheyev said.
The chairman for the Council for Foreign and Defense Politics Sergei Karaganov sticks to another point of view. “One can expect various surprises from the North Korean regime. The country’s economy is in a terrible condition. Sanctions may result in hunger and social explosion the consequences of which can be extremely serious for a nuclear power. Even if Pyongyang has only one nuclear device, the neighbouring countries have to take measures to defend themselves. They can set up regional air defense systems around North Korea. In this case the USA will obtain another reason to create space-based anti-missile defense complexes,” Karaganov said.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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