Kim Il-sung s Poster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Pyongyang’s recent rocket launch has placed North Korea in the cross-hairs of the international community. The current standoff with the “Hermit Kingdom” threatens to stifle very real reforms already underway, as well as peace in the region.
The world’s attention has once again focused on North Korea following its controversial missile launch on December 12th, 2012 that successfully put a satellite into orbit to study crops and weather patterns. While Pyongyang maintains its right to develop a peaceful civilian space program, the launch has wrought condemnation from the international community and its biggest ally, China, for defying UN resolutions that ban it from operating ballistic missile technology. While the launch coincides with upcoming elections in both Japan and South Korea, it is domestically perceived as the centerpiece of the North’s efforts to commemorate the year 2012 as the one-hundredth- anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s birth, the deceased nation’s founder who holds the title of “Eternal President.”
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By Frank V. Pabian and Siegfried S. Hecker
Shortly after its failed April 13 rocket launch, North Korea was widely expected to conduct its third underground nuclear test. Such a test would have fit the pattern of the first two nuclear tests, both of which followed failed rocket launches and international condemnation. And Pyongyang has compelling technical, military, and political reasons to conduct a third nuclear test that would demonstrate it can miniaturize nuclear warheads to fit on a missile, making its nuclear arsenal more threatening.
We believe the first two North Korean tests used plutonium as the fissile material. Without at least one more successful plutonium test, it is unlikely that Pyongyang could have confidence in a miniaturized plutonium design. The country has a very small plutonium stockpile, sufficient for only four to eight bombs, but it may be willing to sacrifice some material to gain additional data to augment information already obtained from the previous two tests.
Complete Article http://www.thebulletin.org/print/web-edition/features/contemplating-third-nuclear-test-north-korea