Geopolitical Update: Strong Bang From Pyongyang?
Business Monitor Online has published a new article outlining the high possibility that North Korea will conduct a new nuclear test over the coming weeks, in line with recent speculation.
- North Korea will probably want to conduct a new nuclear test (which would be its third) to demonstrate its military power after the failure of its widely-publicised rocket launch on April 13.
- North Korea will also want to test a new nuke for scientific reasons, i.e. to perfect its nuclear weapons technology.
That said, the impact of the nuclear test would probably be limited.
- The East Asia region and wider world have now become accustomed to North Korean nuclear and missile tests. They are viewed negatively, but are not crisis-triggering events.
- There are still doubts about North Korea’s ability to miniaturise warheads to fit them onto missiles, and as evident from the April 13 failed rocket launch, there are doubts about the efficacy of North Korea’s missiles.
- North Korea’s long-term strategy appears to be to build up its nuclear and missile arsenal so that it can negotiate with the US, South Korea, and Japan from a position of strength. Ultimately, it wants normal relations with the US and economic assistance from Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo. However, the major powers are unlikely to reward Pyongyang’s bad behaviour.
Going forward, there are three bigger risks stemming from North Korea’s nukes:
- Pyongyang might feel emboldened to carry out more naval skirmishes against the South, as seen in March and November 2010.
- Pyongyang might pass on nuclear technology to Iran.
- Finally, if North Korea were to collapse, the US, South Korea, and China would have to move quickly to secure the nukes, in case they fell into the hands of rogue commanders or criminal groups.