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Now what?

North Korea says nuclear test successful. Sanctions didn’t deter Kim Jong-Il from underground testing of actual weapons of mass destruction; I’m sure he’ll laugh at any dick-wagging threats by Dear Leader.

The United States, Japan, China and Britain led a chorus of criticism and urged action by the United Nations Security Council in response to the reported test, which fell one day after the anniversary of reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s accession to power nine years ago.

The Security Council had warned North Korea just two days earlier not to go through with any test, and the Pyongyang government’s defiance was likely to lead to calls for stronger sanctions against the impoverished and already isolated country.

White House spokesman Tony Snow called for “immediate actions to respond to this unprovoked act” and said that the United States was closely monitoring the situation and “reaffirms its commitment to protect and defend our allies in the region.”

…South Korea said the test was conducted at 10:36 a.m. (9:36 p.m. EDT Sunday) in Hwaderi near Kilju city on the northeast coast. South Korean intelligence officials said the seismic wave had been detected in North Hamkyung province, the agency said.

According to The Guardian, punitive measures being considered are tighter economic sanctions (N. Korea’s already under these), naval stop-and-search operations and the withholding of development aid. I doubt any of these will be a deterrent to this madman.

South Korea – which has previously pursued a softly softly policy with its bellicose neighbour – threatened to “respond sternly” to the provocation. A foreign ministry spokesman said Seoul would support the matter being referred to the UN security council and warned the North that its troops were prepared for any possible aggression.

Analysts said the South Korean president, Roh Moo-hyun, would come under pressure to drop the “sunshine policy” of engagement with North Korea.

“This represents a greater threshold than previous crises,” said former foreign minister Han Seung-joo, chair of the International Policy Studies Institute of South Korea. “It will be very difficult for South Korea to continue with the policy it has pursued for the past eight years. I expect there will be a greater common front with the US and Japan.

Countries/allies in the region would be wise not to rely on anything productive coming out of the U.S. in terms of a response.

Check out Warren’s take on this, Of Bush, North Korea, Hypocrisy and Stupidity.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding