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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2556

North Korean nuclear test a small scale affair

By M Rama Rao reporting from New Delhi

New Delhi, 10 October (asiantribune.com): Notwithstanding outrage from world capitals, the device North Korea tested on Monday is a small one. Its capacity is anywhere between 550 tons to 1000 tons explosive. Not a big blast but it has enabled the North Koreans to test their design. There is a view that the small explosive yield is because the nuke device had failed. But there are few takers for this line with most experts led by Texas based Stratfor, unanimous that Pyongyang has derived the mileage it is after.People walk from the statue of former leader Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang, North Korea, Monday Oct. 9, 2006. North Koreans went about their day to day business and lives in the capital Pyongyang on Monday, hours after their government said it performed its first-ever nuclear weapons test, the news of which reverberated throughout Asia and beyond.People walk from the statue of former leader Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang, North Korea, Monday Oct. 9, 2006. North Koreans went about their day to day business and lives in the capital Pyongyang on Monday, hours after their government said it performed its first-ever nuclear weapons test, the news of which reverberated throughout Asia and beyond.

Through out Monday there was speculation that North Korea would test a second device just as it did when it first tested an indigenous missile in July 4. The Taepodong-2 missile test secretly was followed by another missile test.

"A second nuclear test certainly is within North Korea's capabilities. It is widely believed that Pyongyang possesses six to eight nuclear devices and material enough to produce a few more," says an analysis posted by Stratfor. The Monday test is believed to have taken place in the Hwadae area.

With elections set for 2007 in South Korea and U.S. midterm elections only weeks away, the political magnitude of the North's test might exceed what was actually measured as 4.2 on the Richter scale.

U.S. response was predictable. It has called for a U.N. mandate for sanctions. If there is no U.S. military response, Pyongyang will construe it as acknowledgement of North Korea as a nuclear power.

The world will keenly watch the response from China, notwithstanding the condemnation Beijing has handed out. Expert view is that China will not like to take any precipitate action cutting off food or fuel supplies particularly before winter sets in. Beijing has deployed additional troops to the border, but that is to seal the frontier. Beijing will be angry, but its primary concern is to keep the North Korean people from spilling across the
border into northeast China, according to the Stratfor assessment.

Japan, on its part will close ranks with South Korea and increase diplomatic dialogue with China. But if Tokyo turns nuclear, as some experts expect it to do, it would mean the formal collapse of the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime.

Pyongyang can hope to count on China and South Korea to survive the nuclear haze. Both countries don’t favour of any military action and in fact are dead set against such moves. So much so, they and other similarly placed will like to see North Korea accept the international regulations. The trade off North Korea will insist in such a scenario is legitimacy for its nuclear status and it will like to draw a comparison with Islamabad. Nuclear know-how and drawings were provided by Pakistan to North Korea circumventing the global restrictions.

Fall out for India

Amidst speculation that the North Korea test will put spokes in the India-US civilian nuclear deal, India said North Korea jeopardized peace and stability in the region. It said the tests highlight the "dangers of clandestine proliferation".

While the foreign office spokesman Navtej Sarna said New Delhi was monitoring the situation and was in close touch with several countries, the defence minister Pranab Mukherjee said the test highlighted the collapse of NPT, which India has been holding as discriminatory for long.

Former Indian envoy to the United States, Naresh Chandra regretted that the US and other western powers did not seriously take note of the trade-off between Pakistan providing Pyongyang nuclear technology in return for ballistic missiles from North Korea. He said all this has happened because the US and its western allies had taken a very soft and casual approach to the clandestine link among China, Pakistan and North Korea on nuclear proliferation.

-Asian Tribune –

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