Defying warnings from the international community, North Korea conducted its third nuclear test Feb. 12 at its underground testing site, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced. The blast prompted discussion of the need for a new policy toward North Korea, which had conducted a rocket launch two months earlier.
Last December, after two decades of development and four failed attempts since 1998, North Korea finally boosted a small satellite into orbit using a domestically assembled Unha-3 rocket. Although the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite failed to orient itself properly and never beamed signals to earth-based stations as designed, Pyongyang nonetheless heralded the launch as an epic national achievement.
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.