N. Korea Conducts 'Successful' Underground Nuclear Test - Blaine Harden - Washington Post. North Korea exploded a nuclear device Monday morning, startling the world with its second underground test in three years and vexing the Obama administration, which has said it wants to solve the nuclear impasse with North Korea. The test, described as "successful" by the communist state's official Korean Central News Agency, escalates a pattern of provocation that this spring has included a long-range missile launch, detention of two US journalists, kicking out UN nuclear inspectors, restarting a plutonium factory and halting six-nation nuclear negotiations. On Monday afternoon, North Korea fired three surface-to-air missiles into the sea, according to South Korea's defense minister, Lee Sang-hee. It was an apparent effort to chase off US spy planes monitoring the nuclear test site, according to Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, which quoted an unnamed South Korean official. The missiles, with a range of about 80 miles, were launched from near a coastal base where last month North Korea launched a long-range missile. In Washington, President Obama accused North Korea of "recklessly challenging the international community" with its nuclear and missiles tests. He added in an early morning statement that "the danger posed by North Korea's threatening activities warrants action by the international community." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2009/05/25/ST2009052501053.html?hpid=topnews
North Korean Nuclear Claim Draws Global Criticism - Choe Sang-Hun, New York Times. North Korea’s announcement that it had successfully conducted its second nuclear test on Monday drew condemnation and criticism around the world, including the United Nations Security Council. The dimensions of the test were not immediately verifiable, but estimates ranged upwards of the nearly one kiloton of the North’s first nuclear test, in 2006. President Obama said: “North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose a grave threat to the peace and security of the world, and I strongly condemn their reckless action.” “The United States and the international community must take action in response,” he added. China, by far North Korea’s largest trading partner, said it was “resolutely opposed” to the test, according to a Foreign Ministry statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency.
UN Condemns North Korea Over Nuclear Test - Tim Reid, The Times. The UN Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea last night for carrying out a powerful underground nuclear test. It appeared paralysed on whether to impose further sanctions on the communist regime. President Obama said that the test was a threat to world peace. The atomic bomb - up to 20 times more powerful than the previous one detonated by North Korea in 2006 - was comparable with the one that flattened Hiroshima. It put the world on notice that Pyongyang is accelerating quickly towards a military nuclear capability. Three short-range missiles were also tested, prompting South Korea to put its army on alert. The provocative test sparked global condemnation, even from China, the reclusive state’s only ally. It was clear, however, that the West was increasingly powerless to halt the nuclear programme.
Ignoring Criticism, N. Korea Is Said to Test More Missiles - Choe Sang-Hun, New York Times. One day after a surprise nuclear test drew angry and widespread condemnation, North Korea continued its defiance of the international community on Tuesday by test-firing two more short-range missiles, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap, which cited unidentified government sources in Seoul. The reported missile firings came just hours after South Korea said it would join an American-led operation to stop the global trafficking in weapons of mass destruction, an action bound to further damage the South’s already deteriorating relationship with North Korea. The missiles launched Tuesday were surface-to-ship and surface-to-air projectiles, each with a range of 80 miles, according to the Yonhap sources. They were apparently launched from a base on the central eastern coast into the sea opposite Japan, further rattling nerves in the region.
UN Security Council Condemns North Korea Nuclear Test - Toby Harnden and Malcolm Moore, The Times. The United Nations Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear test at an emergency session in New York last night after Pyongyang tested a nuclear device as powerful as the bomb that destroyed Nagasaki. Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, said it represented "a clear violation" of a 2006 resolution that followed the country's first nuclear test. The blast, which caused a 5.3 magnitude earthquake, demonstrated that Pyongyang had continued to develop its weapons programme despite economic sanctions, aid promises and international outrage. North Korea had been threatening to carry out a second nuclear test since the UN Security Council tightened economic sanctions after a test missile launch in April. Monday night's meeting included the US, Britain, Russia, China and France, the five permanent veto-wielding countries, as part of the full 15-member council. President Barack Obama called the test a "matter of grave concern", accusing North Korea of "directly and recklessly challenging the international community". http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/5384699/UN-Security-Council-condemns-North-Korea-nuclear-test.html
President Obama Condemns North Korean Nuclear Test - Paula Wolfson, Voice of America. US President Barack Obama has condemned North Korea's latest nuclear test, saying the international community must stand up to Pyongyang. Mr. Obama says North Korea's actions endanger its neighbors, and are a blatant violation of international law. President Obama appeared before television cameras at the White House to deliver a blunt message to North Korea's leaders. "North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose a grave threat to the peace and security of the world, and I strongly condemn their reckless action," he said. Speaking just hours before the UN Security Council was due to meet in emergency session on North Korea, the president stressed the need for international solidarity.
North Korean Nuclear Blast Draws Global Condemnation - Blaine Harden, Washington Post. North Korea's detonation of a nuclear device Monday appears not to have been a significant technical advance over its first underground test three years ago. But it has triggered a swifter, stronger and more uniform wave of international condemnation, most notably from the isolated nation's historical allies, China and Russia. The UN Security Council moved quickly in an emergency meeting Monday to condemn the test, saying it constituted a clear violation of a 2006 UN resolution barring the communist state from exploding a nuclear weapon. The council's speedy response contrasted with protracted discussions that followed North Korea's April 5 launch of a long-range missile and reflected what analysts called deep displeasure by Russia and China. Earlier, the Chinese government, North Korea's main economic patron, said it was "resolutely opposed" to the test and told Pyongyang to avoid actions that heighten tensions and return to multi-nation talks focused on dismantling its nuclear program. China's response Monday was significantly more pointed than it was to North Korea's first nuclear test, in October 2006.
Tested Early by North Korea, Obama Has Few Options - David E. Sanger, New York Times. Facing the first direct challenge to his administration by an emerging nuclear weapons state, President Obama declared Monday that the United States and its allies would “stand up” to North Korea, hours after that country defied international sanctions and conducted what appeared to be its second nuclear test. Mr. Obama reacted to the underground blast as White House officials scrambled to coordinate an international response to a North Korean nuclear capacity that none of his predecessors had proved able to reverse. Acutely aware that their response to the explosion in the mountains of Kilju, not far from the Chinese border, would be seen as an early test of a new administration, Mr. Obama’s aides said they were determined to organize a significantly stronger response than the Bush administration had managed after the North’s first nuclear test, in October 2006.
President, Top US Military Denounce North Korean Nuclear Test - Fred W. Baker III, American Forces Press Service. The president and the nation’s top military officer today denounced North Korea's claim that it carried out a powerful underground nuclear test, much larger than previous such tests, to “bolster its nuclear deterrent for self-defense." "North Korea's nuclear ballistic missile programs pose a great threat to the peace and security of the world and I strongly condemn their reckless action," Obama told reporters this morning in the White House Rose Garden. North Korea's actions they are a blatant violation of international law, and they contradict North Korea's own prior commitments, he said.
From Washington to Beijing, World Leaders Denounce Test - Colum Lynch and Joby Warrick, Washington Post. North Korea's announcement of its second nuclear detonation triggered a wave of international condemnation today and sent diplomats scrambling to coordinate a response that could include new sanctions. "By acting in blatant defiance of the United Nations Security Council, North Korea is directly and recklessly challenging the international community," Obama said in a brief statement outside the White House. "North Korea's behavior increases tensions and undermines stability in Northeast Asia. Such provocations will only serve to deepen North Korea's isolation." washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/25/AR2009052501672.html?hpid=topnews
S.Korea to Seek Security Council Response to North's Test - Kurt Achin, Voice of America. South Korea says it wants a strong UN Security Council response to North Korea's latest nuclear test, which the United States has characterized as a direct and reckless challenge to the international community. Meantime, President Barack Obama has condemned North Korea's nuclear test, saying the international community must stand up to North Korea on the nuclear issue. A White House statement is calling North Korea's nuclear test "a matter of grave concern" that "warrants action by the international community." http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-05-25-voa10.cfm
China Opposes N. Korean Nuclear Test - Stephanie Ho, Voice of America. China said it opposes the North Korean nuclear test, but refrained from any harsh language in its statement issued late Monday. Meanwhile, the visiting head of the US Senate's Foreign Relations committee said the North Korean nuclear test is a reckless act that further isolates the Asian nation. The Chinese government issued a statement saying it resolutely opposes North Korea's nuclear test. The statement voiced a "strong demand" that Pyongyang live up to its commitment to a non-nuclear Korean peninsula and refrain from taking any actions that could worsen the situation. The Chinese statement also called for a "calm response" from all parties concerned and expressed hope the issue would be resolved through dialogue and consultation.
Japan Poised to Ease its Ban Again on Export of Weapons - Peter Alford, The Australian. The Japanese Government is about to ease its universal embargo on weapons exports in a move that may foreshadow Japan joining the US-controlled F-35 joint strike fighter project. The decision is another whittling-away of Japan's long-standing policy of standing apart from foreign military engagements and co-operation. It would allow Japanese companies to join international weapons development programs, such as the F-35 program, by removing the ban on exporting components to other participants. Tokyo has already lifted one corner of the 33-year-old embargo to participate in the US's Pacific ballistic missile defence program - Japan is developing an advanced nose-cone for the SM-3 high-altitude interceptor missile. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25530939-31477,00.html
Test Delivers a Message for Domestic Consumption - Martin Fackler, New York Times. When North Korea suddenly announced Monday that it had conducted a second nuclear test, the initial view across the region was that this had been yet another defiant gambit by the North to extract more concessions from Washington. That has been the oft-repeated pattern in the past, and is likely to be one motivation now as well, say North Korea watchers. But this time around, North Korea’s succession crisis is the primary impetus, many experts believe, suggesting that the audience for the test is its own population as much as the United States. Monday’s test is the culmination of a shift toward a more assertive foreign policy, which some analysts say seems to have begun not long after the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, is believed to have suffered a stroke in August. Speculation about a successor has focused on his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, which would continue the family dynasty to the third generation - one unique among Communist nations. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/26/world/asia/26northk.html?adxnnl=1&ref=world&adxnnlx=1243328497-vJGg4L32vnXTShaTOGNJxA
An Early Test for Obama's Engagement Policy - Glenn Kessler, Washington Post. President Obama came into office saying he wanted to demonstrate that engagement with hostile nations is more effective than antagonism, but North Korea's nuclear test now leaves the young administration with critical choices about its response. Does it ramp up the pressure with new and tougher sanctions? Does it not overreact and essentially stand pat? Or will it, like the Bush administration after North Korea's first test in 2006, shift course and redouble efforts at engagement and diplomacy? A key variable is an assessment of what North Korea is hoping to gain. Is it ratcheting up the pressure to win new concessions from the United States and nations in the region? Or should the United States take its rhetoric at face value - that it is aiming to become a full-fledged nuclear power, no matter what the cost in diplomatic isolation? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/25/AR2009052501961.html
No Crisis for North Korea - Washington Post editorial. North Korea's detonation of a nuclear warhead in an underground test yesterday is, of course, cause for serious concern -- particularly as the blast appears to have been considerably larger than the regime's first test nearly three years ago. It is certainly cause for swift action by the UN Security Council, which issued a statement condemning Pyongyang's blatant violations of previous council resolutions, and promised to prepare yet another resolution - though, as always, the prospect that truly tough sanctions will be adopted is not bright. What Kim Jong Il's latest provocation should not cause, however, is the response he is seeking: a rush by the Obama administration to lavish attention on his regime and offer it economic and political favors.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/25/AR2009052501505.html
What to Do About North Korea - Dan Blumenthal and Robert Kagan, Washington Post opinion. The North Korean launch of its Taeopodong-2 missile and its second nuclear test have laid bare the paucity of President Obama's policy options. They have exposed the futility of the six-party talks and, in particular, the much-hyped myth of China's value as a partner on strategic matters. The Obama administration claims that it wants to break with the policies of its predecessor. This is one area where it ought to. After decades of diplomacy and "probing" Pyongyang's intentions, one thing is clear: Kim Jong Il and his cronies want nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. What will dissuade them? Isolation and more punitive sanctions would make sense if China and Russia would go along. But they haven't, and they won't.